Language, Conflict, and Peace-Making

In an action related to the Language, Conflict, and Peace-making initiative, LSA joined more than 30 other scholarly societies in endorsing a statement from the American Historical Association deploring the use of police force against peaceful demonstrators and reaffirming academic freedom, a fundamental condition for linguists to do their work. Read the statement.  When does LSA make public statements?

Background on the Language, Conflict and Peace-making Initiative

At this time in our country and the larger global community, many of us are struggling to find ways to talk to each other about conflicts, whether they are occurring in the United States or abroad.  As a result, our conversations often leave us polarized and divided, while doing little or nothing to help resolve the critical issues at the heart of those conflicts.
The LSA Executive Committee has held a series of discussions regarding how the insights, tools, and empirical findings of linguistics could be highlighted, organized, and engaged so as to illuminate the ways language can be used as a tool to provoke conflict and drive polarization, or to build bridges for peace-making.
Four ideas have emerged from those conversations that could perhaps build on one another. They are broad ideas for a collaborative, inclusive approach that begins by working locally, with awareness of the global context. The Executive Committee has empowered the Secretariat and President to continue developing these ideas, identifying individuals interested in contributing to them, and working toward implementation of those ideas that emerge as viable.

Idea 1: Develop a curated set of peer-reviewed linguistics articles and books

 Establish a curation team with diverse personal experiences and deep professional expertise in one or more aspects of the study of language, power, conflict, and peace-making. Invite them to develop a resource collection composed of peer-reviewed linguistics articles and books that can help people better understand the role of language in fomenting conflict and polarization, and its potential role in building bridges to peace. Make the resource collection available on the LSA website. Whenever possible, work with publishers to provide links that are in front of paywalls.

Idea 2: Write a scholarly article

 Perhaps drawing on the articles and books in the proposed resource collection, this article would help bring their findings into focus, making the case for the contributions of linguistics to better understanding conflict, polarization, and steps toward peace. This article might be written by the curation team, or some sub-set of that team with other collaborators.

Idea 3: Propose an organized session at the 2025 Annual Meeting

 The session would focus on language, power, conflict, and peace-making. Participants might be invited to read from the resource collection before coming to the session.

Idea 4: Consider whether a broadly supported statement might emerge as a result of the previous actions

Stay open to the possibility that an eventual statement that would be broadly supported by LSA members could arise in a grassroots way from the results of all of the above.

Guiding principle for these ideas

 The work above will be framed in the context of language, power, conflict, and peace-making broadly speaking. They will not focus on one conflict to the exclusion of others, but rather illuminate the ways in which linguistics, as a scientific discipline, can help us understand the role of language in conflict and peacemaking, drawing on multiple examples across time and space.

All LSA members are invited to contribute to this effort

If you have suggestions for the Resource Collection, would like to be considered for the Resource Collection curation team, thoughts on how an organized session might best be structured to support constructive and inclusive dialogue, or have other responses or constructive ideas about this effort, we welcome them! 

Please login to the LSA website and from the Member Portal click on the link found under “Bookmarks” called “Member Feedback - Language, Conflict, Peace-Making.


Peace dove sitting on five horizontal lines that on the left are barbed wire and in the middle transform into olive branches that extend to the right.