Skip to main content


Toward a Geolinguistic Imagination | Global Language Justice Seminar With Mary Louise Pratt

General Programming

dateFebruary 14, 2019 timeThursday, 6:15pm EST location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
  • The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
  • The Faculty of Arts and Sciences Office of the Executive Vice President
  • Office of the Dean of the Humanities
  • The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Program at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
  • Lydia Liu
  • Anupama Rao
  • Free and open to the public
  • No registration necessary
  • First come, first seated
Headshot of Mary Louise Pratt

The Institute for Comparative Literature and Society presents

A Public Lectures Series in Global Language Justice

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar: Toward A Geolinguistic Imagination

with Mary Louise Pratt.

What is the relation between biodiversity and linguistic diversity? Why are the two concentrated in the same parts of the planet? Languages disappear only through a process of being replaced by other languages. Can species extinction be thought of this way? What makes it possible/impossible, or desirable/undesirable for collectivities to retain their languages? What does linguistic justice consist of? Does it include the right of access to languages of power, even if that access endangers “mother tongues”? How do people who have experienced language loss talk about it?

Mary Louise Pratt is a Silver Professor in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, and the Department of Iberian and Latin American Studies at New York University, where she is affiliated with the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and the Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics. From 1976- 2002 she taught at Stanford University, where she held the Olive H. Palmer Professorship of Humanities and received the Dean’s award for Distinguished Teaching and the Bing Distinguished Teaching Award. She has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, NEH, ACLA, Pew and Hewlett Foundations, and the Canada Council. In 1998-99 she was awarded a Cátedra Patrimonial (CONACYT, México) at CIESAS Guadalajara, and in 2000-01 was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. She served on the Executive Council of the Modern Language Association from 1986-1990, and as its President and Vice President from 2001-2003. Her teaching areas include 19th and 20th century Latin American literature and thought; theory and critique of empire, colonialism, and neocolonialism; women and print culture in Latin America; Latin American cultural theory; globalization studies; language and geopolitics. Her research in the 1980s and 90s focused on the history of women’s writing in Latin America. From the late 90s on, she studied the neoliberal imagination and the modernity debates. She is currently working on a new book titled Planetary Longings: Cultural Imagination in the Age of Mobility Language and the New World Order.

Follow this link for the Readings for the seminar:


1) The Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights adopted by PEN International in Barcelona in 1996. Easy to find on Internet.

2) M. L. Pratt, “Lessons for Losing,” published version in Profession 2014 (MLA).

To be followed by a faculty and graduate student seminar on Friday, February 15