This historical trend has also been good for the "analytic" / Anglo-American tradition in philosophy. The culturally specific tradition of philosophy as practiced in leading British and U.S. universities in the early 20th century grew seamlessly into the increasingly globalized tradition of philosophical scholarship conducted in English. Ordinary philosophers working in English can easily see themselves as rooted in the analytic / Anglo-American tradition, tracing back the threads of one English-language book or journal article to another to another. We are more rooted in the English-language tradition of that period than we would otherwise be, and no barrier of translation prevents easily reaching back to second-tier works and figures in that tradition or doing close readings of the major figures in their original language.
Despite the increasing globalization of the academic community, in some ways, mainstream Anglophone philosophy tends to be remarkably insular. For example, in a recent study, Linus Ta-Lun Huang, Andrew Higgins, Ivan Gonzalez-Cabrera, and I found the following:
- In a sample of articles from elite Anglophone philosophy journals, 97% of citations are citations of work originally written in English.
- Ninety-six percent of the members of editorial boards of elite Anglophone philosophy journals are housed in majority-Anglophone countries.
- Only one of the 100 most-cited recent authors in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy spent most of his career in non-Anglophone countries writing primarily in a language other than English.
If we are headed into a future in which the philosophical conversation, though conducted in English, is truly global, we must strive to be less insular.
There's a backwards-looking component to de-insulating (= exposing?) Anglophone philosophy, which involves familiarizing ourselves with work in other linguistic traditions, seeing the value of that work and its connections to issues of current philosophical interest.
There's also a forward-looking component, which is to make philosophy more truly global in its sites and practitioners. Central to doing so is removing needless barriers that non-native speakers face when working in English. As Filippo Contesi, Enrico Terrone, and others have argued, the systemic disadvantages non-native English speakers face constitute a form of "linguistic injustice". This injustice is bad not only for those who are put at disadvantage but also for the field as a whole, since it involves discouraging and excluding people who would otherwise make valuable contributions. This is especially true for non-native English speakers who reside in non-majority Anglophone countries.
Thus, I fully endorse the principles set forward by Contesi and Terrone in the following open letter:
Barcelona Principles for a Globally Inclusive Philosophy
The full letter and its signatories can be found here: https://contesi.wordpress.com/bp/
To add your signature to the manifesto, email email@example.com.
[image adapted from here]