About the ISPN

The fourth International Symposium on Place Names (ISPN) will be held from 18 to 20 September 2017 in Windhoek, on the campus of the University of Namibia (information about the venue here). The theme of this Symposium is 'Critical toponymy: Place names in political and commercial landscapes' (download the ISPN 2017 Call for papers). It is jointly organised by the Joint IGU/ICA Commission on Toponymy, the UFS, and UNAM. The deadline for abstract submissions (online) is 17 April 2017.

History of the ISPN

Peter E Raper, one of South Africa’s foremost experts on the Bushman (San) substructures of place names, was appointed as a Professor Extraordinaire in Linguistics in 2011. Subsequently, his host department, then the Department of Language Management and Language Practice at the University of the Free State, together with the Unit for Language Facilitation and Empowerment (ULFE), initiated the Place Name Symposium. His appointment, as well as the hosting of the symposium, is now situated within the ULFE. The aim of this event is to provide a platform for the sharing of expertise and knowledge about place names for local as well as international researchers and government officials.

The symposium became an international occurrence when the Joint IGU/ICA Commission on Toponymy came on board in 2015. Hosted every second year, this symposium is the only one in Southern Africa that focuses on toponomy. The 2011 symposium, entitled 'Planning name changes – the quest for authenticity', was hosted in Bloemfontein, as was the one in 2013 with the theme, 'Place names in a multilingual society'. The symposium in 2015, which focused on 'Place names, diversity and heritage', was held in Clarens. While the first three symposia were hosted in South Africa, the aim is to rotate hosting between Southern African countries. As such, the 2017 symposium will be held in Windhoek, in collaboration with the University of Namibia.

In line with developments in the field of toponomy, the theme for 2017 is 'Critical toponomy: Place names in political and commercial landscapes'. The vision of the International Symposium on Place Names is to continue and promote the sharing of international expertise and collaboration on all aspects of place names.

Travelling to Namibia

Information about travel, accommodation, visas, and other useful tips can be found at the Namibia Tourism Board. You will most likely enter the country through the Hosea Kutako International Airport, which is situated 45 km east of Windhoek. While shuttles and car rental services operate from the airport, you are advised to make these arrangements beforehand.

Transport in Windhoek

Be advised that the conference venue (campus of the University of Namibia) is not centrally situated. If your guesthouse or hotel does not offer a complimentary service, be advised to make a booking with a taxi service such as Windhoek City Cab.