An International Workshop supported by the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre and the Australian Research Council, the University of Sydney | Mon-Tues August 19-20, 2019


Nearly 600 distinct languages are spoken in greater Mainland Southeast Asia (MSEA). They show patterns of both diversity and unity in their origins, cultural contexts, social settings, and linguistic structure, from phonology to morphological profile to person reference systems, and beyond. How do features of language in MSEA relate to patterns of culture and society in the area? While major languages like Thai, Lao, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Burmese, and Chinese are well-studied, they represent only a fraction of the area’s languages. This workshop will look at the languages of the MSEA area through an anthropological lens, with an emphasis on minority/indigenous languages.


Nick Enfield (Sydney)

Jack Sidnell (Toronto)

Charles Zuckerman (Sydney/Georgetown)

International Guests

Judith Irvine (University of Michigan)

Hy Van Luong (University of Toronto)

James Slotta (University of Texas)

Huong Vu (Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences)


Limited places are available for participation in this International Workshop. Please submit an abstract of your proposed contribution (see workshop description below for guidelines):


Abstract length: 200 words max

Abstracts due date: February 28, 2019

Submit by email to:


The convenors will rank submissions based on their fit with the workshop description and goals, and their contribution to an appropriate mix of topics and speakers.

Scope of Workshop Content

This workshop will focus on research problems central to the anthropology of language, including:


  • Language and kinship
  • Inter-language contact
  • Language and identity
  • Language and music
  • Language and political power
  • Language and social interaction
  • Language and media/technology
  • Language style and sociolinguistic variation
  • Language diversity and patterns of thought
  • Language ideologies
  • Relations between socio-culture and language structure/usage


The aim of the workshop is to develop a state of the art exploration of the anthropology of language in Mainland Southeast Asia. In the process, we will contribute to both research on Mainland Southeast Asian languages and linguistic anthropology, broadly conceived.


Funding support: There are no fees for participation in the workshop. Our default assumption is that participants will cover costs of their own travel, accommodation, and upkeep during the workshop. However, we will be able to provide some funding assistance for a limited number of participants who can show a clear need. If you would be unable to attend without some form of funding assistance, please specify this clearly in your submission.


February 28, 2019 – Abstract submissions due

March 2019 – Successful participants notified

June 2019 – First draft contributions submitted to convenors for feedback

July 2019 – Revised draft chapters, for precirculation among all participants

August 2019 – Workshop