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On 28-30 June 2018, JIAS and the Department of Linguistics and Multilingual Studies in the School of Humanities of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore hosted a Colloquium on ‘The Future of Multilingualism’. The Colloquium was held at JIAS in Westdene, Johannesburg.


The Colloquium was aimed at taking advantage of multilingual sites such as South Africa and Singapore to explore the future of multilingualism. Questions addressed included the following:

  • What is the future of multilingualism in these multilingual societies?
  • How do anti-colonial and post-colonial nations reconcile multilingualism in the face of new linguistic ecologies?
  • What are the challenges of nation-building when one is faced with multiple tongues?
  • What does the way in which multilingual postcolonial nations deal with multilingualism tell us about a possible alternative framework for understanding the relationship between language and nation?
  • How are present education systems and technologies dealing with multilingualism?

By approaching this conversation from archives across Asia and Africa, the Colloquium sought to look at multilingualism and its future trajectory by taking into account the specificities of a range of colonial experiences, political regimes, and current infrastructures.

The gathering at JIAS was also aimed at generating contributions to an edited volume emanating from the first round of conversations which were held in Singapore earlier in 2018.

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