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Foundation for Endangered Languages

FEL XIII: Endangered Languages and History

This page last updated: 13 December 2009

Programme | Visa and travel information | Accommodation | Conference Proceedings


Post-conference updates

Conference resolution (in English and Russian)

Photos (photos of the conference participants and environment)


The Foundation for Endangered Languages, in association with the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan, the Institute of Ismaili Studies, London UK, and The Institute of Humanities, Khorog


The Foundation for Endangered Languages, in association with the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan, and The Institute of Humanities, Khorog

Programme: see the Draft Programme


Institute of Humanities, Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan, Khorog Tajikistan. See below for travel and visa information.

Important Dates

Conference themes:

Endangered languages are often the remnants of old nations and civilizations. Many of these languages have been widely used in vast territories for centuries before giving way to more powerful and influential languages over a period of time for various social, economic, literary, political, and natural reasons. It is often precisely in the endangered languages of minorities and indigenous peoples that scholars seek answers to the historical developments of nations, their values and ethics, agricultural activities, habitat, way of life, migration patterns, arts and crafts,  religious traditions, archaeological findings, etc. Endangered languages can serve to legitimise the sovereignty of the dominant nations, or to reaffirm their identity and authority over the territory, often at the expense of other languages. In the process, the endangered languages themselves may be strengthened or weakened as the past of the nation becomes a bone of contention. History also has value in the life of a community and can foster and promote a sense of identity among its members, thus perhaps playing a crucial role in the preservation or revitalisation of the endangered languages.

The conference will discuss the complex interaction of Endangered Languages and History and how the study of history can encourage the preservation and promote the revitalisation of endangered languages. The following are some of the aspects of this interface which could be discussed at the conference, certainly not an exclusive list:

  • The role of endangered languages in the writing of history. Endangered languages as a medium for history writing, a source of historical data, and a basis for the buttressing of the historiography of a nation, region, empire, etc.
  • Methods and tools used to relate history to endangered languages, including the effects of imperialism and nationalism on their perceived status. The impact of conquest, political annexation, economic ascendency or cultural dominance on languages and their resulting endangerment; conversely, the contributions of endangered languages to the evolution of the language of empire.
  • Use of endangered languages in the study of literary sources and archaeological findings. Oral history, myth and oral literature as instruments of decipherment of sources.
  • The use of endangered languages in strengthening historic community identities, at any level from family to nation.   Endangered languages as a symbol of homogeneity, an instrument of unity and a vehicle of identity.
  • What history tells us about the causes and trends of language attrition, including the role of language contact as a result of trade, war, conquest and missionary religion.
  • How historical studies can contribute to the revitalisation of endangered languages.
  • A historical perspective on the developing study of language endangerment and endangered languages. Historiography and epistemology of language endangerment.

The languages of the conference: English, Russian and Tajik. Abstract and papers will be accepted in any of these languages.


Each presentation at the Conference will last twenty minutes, with a further ten minutes for discussion and questions and answers. Keynote lectures (by invitation only) will last forty-five minutes each.

Visa and travel information: see the Visa and travel information page

Accommodation: see the Accommodation information page


  • US$500 for participants from developed countries
  • US$300 for participants from developing countries (including Russia, Central Asian countries, Afghanistan, Pakistan)
  • a subsidised rate will be applied to local participants

The fee includes conference fee, accommodation, food, travel to Khorog by road, an excursion to the Badakhshan region, the conference proceedings. The fee also includes annual membership of FEL.

Note: The fee does not include expenses in Dushanbe. The local organising committee can arrange booking hotel in Dushanbe on request. The price will range from US$50-US$150.

The fee can be paid by one of these methods:

  1. e-mail details to Chris Moseley (chrismoseley50@yahoo.com)
  2. fax details to +44 118-9470544
  3. telephone details to +44 118-9479243
  4. post details to

    Chris Moseley
    9 Westdene Crescent,
    Caversham, Berks.
    RG4 7HD

  5. bank transfer to
  6. International bank account number: GB95 CPBK 0890 0250 0734 56
    Bank identification code: CPBK GB22

About the organisers

The Institute of Humanities in Khorog is an affiliate of the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan. The institute is engaged in the study of culture, history, languages, folklore and literary tradition of the people of Badakhshan region of Tajikistan. The institute holds an extensive archive of oral traditions of the Pamir and adjacent areas.

Khorog is capital of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan.

Contacts for the organizing committee

Hakim Elnazarov email: hakimelnazar@yahoo.com   mobile: +44 (0) 7766 932 653
Nicholas Ostler email: nostler@chibcha.demon.co.uk
Shodikhon Yusufbekov e-mail: yshp@mail.ru

FEL conferences

FEL has hosted an annual conference since 1996, most recently in Stellenbosch, South Africa (2005), Mysore, India (2006), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2007) and Ljouwert/Leeuwarden, Netherlands (2008). The FEL conferences bring together experts, scholars and enthusiasts from all over the world to discuss issues pertinent to the endangerment of languages. The Proceedings of FEL conferences are available as published volumes.

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