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Sustaining Minority Languages in Europe (SMiLE)

Regional Library of Bizkaia, Bilbo (Bilbao), Bizkaia
Regional Library of Bizkaia, Bilbo (Bilbao), Bizkaia. Photo by Mary Linn, Smithsonian

Languages are integral to our identity, our heritage, and our humanity. With most of the world’s languages severely threatened, thousands of language communities have committed to revitalization efforts, from documentation and renewal to revitalization and maintenance. These efforts respond to the urgency of the situation in the absence of robust comparative research.

At the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, we believe that sustained efforts in language revitalization and the accumulated literature on these efforts are at a point where larger-scaled comparative analysis and synthesis is possible. To address this need, we have developed an interdisciplinary research program, Sustaining Minority Languages in Europe (SMiLE), that seeks to examine autochthonous or minoritized language revitalization initiatives in Europe in a more systematic manner.

Call for Proposals

SMiLE invites proposals for community-situated ethnographic and sociolinguistic research around a series of questions addressing the social, cultural, political, and economic factors that contribute to the vitality of minoritized language communities. We are particularly interested in creating comparable case studies that:

  • reveal the trajectory of a community’s language revitalization programs and efforts at various stages of their lifecycles;
  • analyze how language revitalization and maintenance programs respond to internal and external social, economic, and political factors;
  • explore relationships among language revitalization, cultural heritage, and traditional cultural transmission.

The complete description of the program and application materials are available in the right navigation bar.

Collaborative Research Awards

SMiLE will fund six teams of two or more academic researchers, community-based scholars, language advocates, policy experts, and others. Support is available for various combinations of fieldwork, consultation, project-related travel, and archival research for periods up to eighteen months. Each research team will be eligible for awards up to $120,800 USD.

Grantees are expected to present their works-in-progress at three workshops sponsored by the Smithsonian and collaborate with other grantees and SMiLE advisors to synthesize findings.

Eligibility to Apply

  • Proposed research must be conducted in a European autochthonous or minoritized language community whose members are currently engaged in language revitalization or maintenance efforts.
  • At least one Principal Investigator from each team submitting a proposal must have strong ties with the community or program of the research site. Ideally, one PI or supplementary partner or collaborator will be a community member.
  • Preference will be given to teams with at least one Principal Investigator who holds a PhD (or other terminal degree) related to the study of language in society in one of the social sciences or humanities.
  • Applicants should be able to demonstrate their ability to engage in ethnographically informed research in multiple social fields and language domains.
  • Nationals of any country may apply.

Application Deadline:

September 1, 2017

SMiLE Research Awards are sponsored by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage with funding from Ferring Pharmaceutics Inc.


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