Who Owns Our Tongue? English, Academic Life, and Subjectivity

  • Kosuke Shimizu
Open Access


The issue of language as it relates to the disciplines of politics, International Relations (IR) and Asian Studies has received insufficient attention in contemporary academic circles, in part because of the uncritical assumption that language is an unloaded and transparent system of signs that merely conveys the meanings in the mind of the subject. Some scholars argue, however, that using English is a contradiction for the narratives of non-Western political theories and critical Asian Studies because, these critics suggest, English is an exclusively Western language. Nevertheless, the main language in contemporary academia is English, which accounts for a great deal of the publications, particularly in the case of the disciplines noted above. Even though the argument against the use of English in non-Western intellectual activities seems to be reasonable at first glance, a thorough investigation of the language and the disciplines will reveal some hidden and unquestioned assumptions underlying contemporary academic life, particularly relating to subjectivity. This article strives to criticize this immature acceptance of a naive equation of English with the West. Moreover, it argues that English is no longer a Western-owned language and that diversifying the ownership of English will direct us to a more democratic intersubjectivity. However, for this very reason, we must be prepared to accept a hitherto undreamt of grammatical transformation of English.


International Relation Academic Life Outer Circle International Relation World Affair 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Kosuke Shimizu 2014

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  • Kosuke Shimizu

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