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Introduction to Language and Community Workshop

In the opening remarks Ilya Afanasyev first discusses the research network itself, outlining how it came about and its core aims. Nicholas Matheou then introduces the present workshop, discussing its concept and arrangement, and emphasising that this is not simply a matter of deconstructing ‘the past,’ but also the question of how best to equip ourselves for ‘the present’ and ‘future.’

This one-day workshop was focused on speakers of the Middle East’s major Indo-European languages, and took an explicitly comparative approach to the strategies and modes by which actors and communities constructed resultant identities. The workshop was broken down into three sessions each containing an Armenian, Kurdish and Iranian specialist, addressing how processes of self-definition, socio-political mobilisation and group formation are reflected in their linguistic, cultural and chronological foci. Ranging from the First Millennium A.D. to the 21st Century, the exciting presentations demonstrated clearly the enormous value of a de-centred, nuanced, and critical approach to issues of identity, ethnicity and nationhood across time and place.