Workshop: Linguistic Prehistory and Ecology in the Northern Pacific Rim

Releasing the ecological knowledge from language

  • Start: Aug 28, 2024 09:00 AM (Local Time Germany)
  • End: Aug 29, 2024 09:00 PM
  • Speaker: Various
  • Location: Volkshaus Jena - Carl-Zeiss-Platz 15, 07743 Jena
  • Host: Language and the Anthropocene Research Group - Martine Robbeets & Martijn Knapen
  • Contact:
Workshop: Linguistic Prehistory and Ecology in the Northern Pacific Rim
Over recent decades, the significant impact of human activity on the Earth's climate and ecosystems has led to the current epoch being named the “Anthropocene.” This term marks the period when human actions began to have an irreversible effect on the planet, starting around 10,000 years ago during the Neolithic era when humans first domesticated plants and animals. The Anthropocene has challenged all scientific disciplines to adapt to the rapidly changing world, resulting in new interdisciplinary fields like Geoanthropology and Historical Ecology that study human-ecosystem relationships.

Despite calls to integrate the humanities into Anthropocene research, linguistics has been slow to engage. The newly established research group “Language and the Anthropocene” at the Max Planck Institute of Geoanthropology aims to highlight the importance of linguistics within this field. The group’s workshop will explore how language serves as an archive of environmental knowledge, focusing on the Northern Pacific Rim. This region, stretching from California to Alaska and from Japan to Korea, is home to numerous diverse language families and isolates.

The workshop invites case studies on the transmission of ecological knowledge in this area, integrating linguistic reconstruction and interdisciplinary perspectives. Topics include plant use, animal husbandry, hunting, and aquatic resource exploitation. By combining linguistics with insights from anthropology, archaeobotany, ecology, and ethnobiology, the research aims to reveal how humans have historically interacted with their environment and with each other, shedding light on the connections encoded in the languages of the Northern Pacific Rim.
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