“Strategies of Literacy among the Dungan of Central Asia”
Professor Cristoph Harbsmeier
Thursday, March 12th, @ 4PM in Social Sciences 401.
Discussions about literacy tend to be about the difference literacy makes to cultures.
The present talk is about the crucial difference it makes not only what kind of alphabetic or syllabic writing system is adopted, but especially what general type of writing system (Chinese-type morphemic versus purely phonetic) is chosen. I shall discuss the cultural politics and the linguistic impact of such choices between writing systems in the history of the Dungan language in Kyrgyzstan.
Throughout most of the twentieth century research on Dungan has been predominantly in Russian, the language with which Central Asian Dungan has always been in a close symbiotic relationship. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union Chinese linguists have paid sharply increasing attention to Dungan linguistics.
Both the Russian and the Chinese linguistic scholarship will be shown to have had significant political motivations.
The choice among the writing systems will be shown to be closely linked to strategies of ethnic self-construal among the Dungan people in Central Asia.
The University of Oslo hosts a fairly comprehensive public database on Dungan affaors designed by Ivo Spira: http://folk.uio.no/ivos/ODADS/
Here it will be seen that Dungan printed literature is extensive. Much of it is now conveniently available on-line.
Ivo Spira has organised an important conference on Dungan Studies in September 2014: