Language Endangerment and Political Instability (LEPI)

A series of interdisciplinary workshops funded by

The National Science Foundation (NSF)

Political instability and violence create an environment for language loss and resulting in social instability. The purpose of the Political Instability and Language Endangerment (LEPI) conference and workshops is to develop a thorough understanding of how political instability and violence break apart communities and erode their ability to pass down their written and spoken word. These interdisciplinary conferences brought together experts from political science, linguistics, and other fields to develop a global and comprehensive account of the intersection of politics and language endangerment.

Led by an interdisciplinary team of linguists and political scientists, the project integrates knowledge from both fields to produce new strategies for interdisciplinary research. The dominant paradigm for understanding the causes of language endangerment takes into consideration local social and economic factors. The potential for a more comprehensive understanding is possible through the perspective of political science, which takes into account the role of violence, power, and resources in societies and across institutions of governance.

LEPI events investigate causes for language change including national language policies; instability due to war and other forms of conflict; economically forced immigration. These took place from 2018-2020 in partnership with The Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). View event programs here:

Explore the products of LEPI events here: