It’s necessary to frequently remind ourselves that Academia does not just happen in English. It sounds like a silly thing to write, but having worked in the UK for a while I know it is rare to attend events that are not in English and it is common to ignore scientific communities and publications in other languages. This attitude is certainly encouraged by the Institute of Scientific Information (creators of our beloved Impact Factor) who rarely incorporate non-English language publications in their index. This is an assumption supported by some generalizing statistics: the majority of scientific publications are in English, the vast majority of citations are to publications written in English.
There is nothing wrong with one language emerging as the dominant one to facilitate academic communication. But this trend is inevitably accompanied by other language communities producing, debating, and evaluating work in English and their own language. This is necessary and facilitates non-English speakers to evaluate and contribute to international debates. Such communities enable those who are engaged in both international and national debates to cross-fertilize academic communities. Most importantly however, these will be the communities that take care of one of our most crucial duties as academics: to communicate our findings in a critical and understandable way to the general public, regardless of their language.
All of this is of course beside the point :) I want to encourage everyone to attend the third French-speaking historical network science community conference. It’s a great and active community, with some genuinely nice and interesting people. This will not be a disappointment. I have engaged with this community before and came out with fresh ideas and approaches I could not have possibly gained within my English-speaking cocoon.
When? 29-31 October
The third conference of the French-speaking group Res-Hist (réseaux et histoire – historical network analysis) will take place in Paris on the 29-31 October. The format mostly offers discussions of work in progress by historians, as well as presentations by specialists of other disciplines (geography, geomatics, sociology, law, anthropology, computer science) who have dealt with social networks in time, or social networks reconstructed from written sources. All those among you who understand French are welcome! Extended abstracts are put online when we receive them: feel free to comment on our website http://reshist.hypotheses.org, that also gives details on the conference program.