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PhD workshop: Language and identity in the intercultural encounter

Do you think language constitutes identity? If so, what does that mean for our approach to foreign languages and plurilingualism? Answer thoses questions in this CIVIS course

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CIVIS focus area
Society, culture, heritage
Open to
  • Phd
Field of studies
  • Social Science and humanities
  • CIVIS Hub 2
Course dates
29-30 July

When reflecting upon identity, we must bear in mind at least two levels on which we can analyse this concept: on one hand, the level of personal identity, on the other hand, the one of collective identity. But, under both of these perspectives, identity can be put into question as a concept. In the philosophical tradition, identity stands for stability, sameness and unity as opposed to changing and multiplicity. But is the concept of identity understood in these terms suitable for expressing our social being, or should we rather replace it with a notion that takes into account multiple allegiances and diversity, like for example the notion of “belonging” (appartenance)? On a personal level, one can belong to several groups or “social identities”, while on the collective level, we may ask the question of what ensures the cohesion of a community, and what defines its belonging.

Such an endeavour leads us to the problem of language: is speech the foundation of this cohesion, in such a way that the relation between language and identity is constitutive for both terms? Or, on the contrary, is linguistic congruence only a type of identification among others, language itself being but one of several markers of identity, along with ethnicity, tradition or religion? However, unlike religion, language is not exclusive. One can be born in several mother tongues, or one can displace oneself by learning other languages. Therefore, the question of a foreign language, just as the one of an identity translation, comes to the fore. In what our individuality is concerned, how does our relationship with our mother tongue change, if we experience our belonging to a community through a foreign language? In what the community itself is concerned, does its perception of identity change, by any means, through the encounter of the foreign?

What kind of in-between develops itself, then, in the middle ground of different cultures, which may speak the same religion or ethnicity, but not necessarily the same language? What kind of intercultural undergoing takes place, for example, between countries like Turkey, Iran and Iraq within Islam, or Switzerland as prelinguistic nationhood?  Is plurilingualism itself an indisputable reality, or should we all rather affirm, as Jacques Derrida invites us to do, that we have only but one language, which though never belongs to us? In this respect, the question of identity is set upon new ground, opening inner finitude proper to any inclusion, just as to any ownership.

The workshop is part of a series of workshops aiming to establish an academic network of PhD-students who are interested in the general topic of “Intercultural Philosophy and Global Epistemologies”.

Main topics addressed

  • Identity
  • Foreignness
  • Plurilingualism
  • Relation between language and identity

Learning outcomes

The PhD students will get the chance to present their project to a broader interdisciplinary community. Additionally, they will learn about current research done in the field of language and identity.

Dates: 29-30 July Duration: 2 days
Format: Physical Language: English (C1)
Location: Tübingen, Germany CIVIS scholarships: 12
Contact hours: 16 hours ECTS: 1*
Contact: Individual workload: 25-30 hours

*The recognition of ECTS depends on your home university. 

This CIVIS course will have a duration of 2 days. A maximum of 12 international CIVIS students will be accepted in the course for a total of 18 students.


This CIVIS course is open to doctoral students from all disciplines (Masters' students can be admitted on well-grounded argumentation).

Applicants must pursue their PhD in a field related to the workshop's topic.

A C1 level of English is required. 


There will be 2x4 sessions (8 sessions in total) from 9:00 to 13:00 and from 14:00 to 18:00 CET.

The workshop will last for two days. Participants are expected to arrive a day before and leave the day after the workshop so that the workshop itself allows for two whole days of work. Besides presentations and seminars held by the lecturers, all participating PhD students are invited to present part of their research projects related to the topic of the workshop (20-minute presentation followed by discussions).

Application process

Applications should supply the following documents:

  • Application form
  • CV (2 pages max)
  • Cover letter with the expression of interest (300 words max)
  • Paper title and 300-word abstract

Applications should be sent by 14 June 2022 to or our postal address:

College of Fellows - Geschwister Scholl Platz - 72074 Tübingen - Germany

A letter of admission will reach successful applicants by 16 June 2022.

Students will be chosen following those criteria:

  • Academic excellence
  • Interdisciplinary interest
  • Relation to the topic of the workshop


PhD students have to present their papers. The professors will discuss them with the students and give their feedback.

General Eligibility Criteria for CIVIS Courses

Applicants need to be enrolled at their home university in order to be eligible for selection and participation.  If uncertain about your status at your home university (part-time or exchange students etc) please check with your home university’s website or International Office. 

Applicants who will be receiving other Erasmus funds for the duration of the course are not entitled to funding. Participation in the course may still be possible under “zero-grant” status, but applicants should contact their home university in order to confirm this. 

A list of links and contacts for each university can be found in this Q&A.

GDPR Consent

The CIVIS alliance and its member universities will treat the information you provide with respect. Please refer to our privacy policy for more information on our privacy practices. By applying to this course you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

  • Helena Bodin is a professor of Literary History at the Department of Culture and Aesthetics at Stockholm University. Her research concerns the functions of literature at boundaries, such as between languages, nations, arts and media. She studied modern literature's engagement with the Byzantine Orthodox Christian tradition, from the various perspectives of cultural semiotics (2011), intermedial studies (2013),  and translation studies (2002), including aspects of multilingualism
  • Héctor Grad Fuchsel is a Full Professor in the Department of Social Anthropology and Spanish Thought at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM). He holds a PhD in Social Psychology from the Complutense University of Madrid, after having studied B.A. and M.A. at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Bogdan Minca is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Bucharest, Department of Practical Philosophy and History of Philosophy. His main research topics are classical Greek Philosophy and in Phenomenology and Hermeneutics
  • Niels Weidtmann is director of the College of Fellows - Center for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Studies at Tübingen University. He is head of a research group in Intercultural Studies. His research is on phenomenology and intercultural philosophy.