Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Ethics
In her 2002 article, "'Expert Rhetorics' in Advocacy for Endangered Languages: Who Is Listening, and What Do They Hear?," Hill argues that there are three "ubiquitous" themes in "expert rhetoric on language endangerment": "universal ownership," "hyperbolic valorization," and "enumeration" (120). This panel engages with Hill's concerns about work on "endangered" languages and addresses the following questions: Of these three themes, which continue to be ubiquitous in scholarly work on non-dominant languages? And, what new themes have become salient in work on these languages?
In light of Hill's (2002) insights and those of Irvine and Gal (2000), this panel proceeds from the perspective that "…the scholarly enterprise of describing linguistic differentiation is itself ideologically and socially engaged" (74). Thus, panelists consider their own positionalities vis-à-vis the production of knowledge about non-dominant languages, the effects (both positive and negative) that producing and disseminating findings about these languages may have in the communities in which the languages are used, the role ideologies about languages and associated people and practices play in these processes, as well as other related ethical considerations. Following Irvine & Gal (2000), panel participants will consider how their "ideologies concerning boundaries and differences may contribute to language change[;]…how the describer's ideology has consequences for scholarship, how it shapes his or her description of language(s)[; and,] the consequences for politics, [that is] how linguistic ideologies are taken to authorize actions on the basis of linguistic relationship or difference" (36).
To engage in this process in a reflexive and positioned way and to help make explicit the language ideologies scholars bring to the table when conducting and disseminating research, panelists are either native speakers/users of the languages in question or they are engaging community members and native speakers/users of the languages in question in the development of their papers on this panel. Most are writing with community-based co-authors. In so doing, panelists provide both emic and etic perspectives on the languages in question and engage in collaborative conversations and negotiations with everyday users of the languages about the ethics of producing and disseminating findings about these languages. In this way, the panel directly engages the conference theme of "Change in the Anthropological Imagination," challenging both individual paper authors to consider and perhaps change their own anthropological imaginations as well as the field at large to consider what a shift in anthropological imagination away from the fruits of scholarly labor within the academy to considerations of the effects of such scholarly labor beyond the academy might entail. How might such considerations inform processes of resistance, resilience, and adaptation, among others? Papers cover various linguistic modalities and geographic regions in order to offer a broad range of perspectives on the topic at hand.
Hill, J. (2002). "Expert Rhetorics" in Advocacy for Endangered Languages: Who is Listening, and What Do They Hear? Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 12(2):119-133.
Irvine, J. & Gal, S. (2000). Language Ideology and Linguistic Differentiation. In P.V. Kroskrity (Ed.), Regimes of Language (35-83). Santa Fe: School of American Research Press.