NWU extraordinary professor advocates for the importance of Global South scholarship

Issued by North West University
North-West, May 23, 2019

On Monday, 20 May, Professor Sinfree Makoni delivered a lecture at North-West University's (NWU's) Optentia research institute, located at the university's campus in Vanderbijlpark, in his capacity as extraordinary professor.

Makoni teaches in the Department of Applied Linguistics and African Studies at Penn State University, in Pennsylvania, USA. His research interests lie in colonial linguistics, language policy and planning, and the ontologies and epistemologies of language and ageing.

His lecture focused on applied linguistics and ageing from Global South and southern perspectives.

Makoni explained that including the notion of "southern perspectives" entails adding perspectives from the Global South of various southern people who are often forgotten and incorporating geographical areas or topics derived from analysis in Global Northern applied linguistics. But, it is more than that.

"What we are addressing here, by contrast, is a much more far-reaching set of challenges to what applied linguistics means," he said. "We address what it encompasses, what its central concerns are, what it regards as its antecedents and historical pedigree, and what ideas and traditions it therefore draws on."

He added that the innovations and challenges that need to be brought to applied linguistics have far-reaching implications for ageing, which extend beyond an agenda that seeks to redress various exclusions. Rather, these are deep-seated challenges to some of the core tenets of applied linguistics, as well as new directions for theories and practices in the field.

Makoni acknowledged the complicities of applied linguistics with a history of colonialism and capitalism, and a range of contemporary inequalities. He argued that we need to remake applied linguistics at a global level in open-ended ways if it is to be relevant to ageing.

He concluded his lecture by making a case for alternative understandings of language and ageing, and for the importance and contribution of the Global South to Global North scholarship.

More about the expert

Professor Sinfree Makoni holds a PhD in applied linguistics from Edinburgh University in Scotland. He has written extensively and has co-authored various books, the most recent being "Innovations and Challenges to Applied Linguistics from the Global South", which he co-edited with Alastair Pennycook. The book, published by Routledge Press, will be on shelf in August.