Language, Identity, and Nation in South Asia


A virtual teaching workshop for middle and high school teachers, organized by the UW-Madison Center for South Asia and co-sponsored by the Institute for Regional and International Studies.

Date: August 14, 2020, 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM CDT

Location: Live virtual webinar

Event Description: This teacher training workshop, designed for middle and high school teachers, will address how to discuss the complex interactions between language, identity, and nation in the classroom. Taking a historical perspective, this workshop focuses on the way language and identity have been shaped in this region over the past few centuries, from the British imperial project to major events such as the 1947 Partition and the 1971 independence of Bangladesh. We will reflect on the relationship of language to political movements, knowledge production and education, and human rights in South Asia as well as the relevance of these processes to our own context in the U.S. The workshop will include faculty-led sessions (Dr. Gwendolyn Kirk, LUMS and SASLI and Umar Anjum, SASLI and BULPIP) and differentiated lesson planning unit building (led by Lauren Lauter, PhD Candidate in Curriculum and Instruction at UW-Madison) so that teachers at all levels of instruction can make the politics of language in South Asia relevant to students in the contemporary U.S. classroom.  The workshop “Language, Identity, and Nation” will provide a safe space for teachers to learn, reflect, and plan while also discussing strategies for classroom engagement when teaching about a sensitive subject.

About Our Presenters:

Dr. Gwendolyn Kirk is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at LUMS. Her research centers on language ideologies and popular culture in Pakistan. Kirk’s current book project addresses questions of language, performance, and aesthetics in Lahore’s Punjabi film industry. It explores theoretical flows and exchanges between linguistic anthropology, sociolinguistics, and cultural studies. Her other interests include semantics and performative genres in South Asian literature as well as links between global politics and South Asian librarianship. A founding member of the Punjabi Boliyan Research Initiative, her work also addresses language shift and dialect variation in Punjab, as well as the film, television, and screen cultures of Pakistan. In 2020, with film scholar Dr. Zebunnisa Hamid, she co-founded the open-access online journal Reel Pakistan: A Screen Studies Forum.


Umar Anjum has a background in Education and Second Language teaching. He attended Michigan State University, USA, as a Fulbright fellow, where he both taught and received graduate training. He has been on the teaching faculty at the Lahore School of Economics, Pakistan, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and at Forman Christian College, a 150 year-old university in his hometown of Lahore. He has worked as a Teacher Trainer with The City School in Pakistan, and he is working with UC Berkeley for their study abroad program in Pakistan. He is a TED. Ed fellow and a TED translator. This is his second year with the SASLI.




Lauren Lauter is an educator, painter, amateur comic book artist and PhD candidate living in Madison, WI. She combines visual storytelling with historical archival work in order to create vulnerable portrait narratives, hopefully connecting to a viewer’s sense of empathy, curiosity and humor.