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: Resistance
Secondary Theme: Policy
Global developments in migration, communication technology, and conceptualization of human rights complicate the isomorphic relationship between language, nation-state and identity while also contributing to increased polarization of stances towards multilingualism. At one end of a continuum, voices are clamoring for the Herderian vision of “one nation, one language”, or alternatively, one religion, one language. At the other, groups whose voices have been marginalized by these ideals are gaining power and political legitimacy to express their linguistic existence (Skutnabb-Kangas 2000; Woolard 2016). Our panel explores on one hand, the roles that institutions play and the discourses that emerge from them, in their efforts to manage language policy and linguistic diversity. On the other hand, we explore styles of agentive resistances to the structures these institutions are attempting to maintain. In each case we observe that the players involved navigate through linguistic boundaries by way of nuanced “heteroglossic” practices in resistance to “centripetal forces” (Bakhtin1981), at times aligning themselves with institutional policy, at times against it, and at times even recursively reproducing it through shifting and ambiguous stances (Jacobs-Huey 2006; Jaffe 2009; Barrett 2006). These studies examine the ways counterdiscourses (Chatterjee 1993; Peters&Lankshear 1996: 2) emerge from everyday practices and experiences resisting institutional language policies, as well as how institutions themselves can potentially influence discourse, “in the nooks and crannies of everyday life” (Besnier 2009:11), in order to reinforce hegemonic language ideologies. The first paper examines the case of the Homshetsi people who speak an Armenian dialect in Turkey, in which the ontological presence of the Homshetsnak language and “camouflaged” narratives (Morgan 1993,1995) of encounters with Armenians cause multiple and conflicting stances towards belonging to Turkish nationality and constitute forms of resistance to hegemonic discourses. Another paper explores how Gaelic revitalization institutions are sites that both resist hegemonic Scottish language policies that place English as the language of anonymity, as well as sites that reinscribe linguistic hegemony by contributing to a standard form of Gaelic most accessible to urban, middle class Gaelic learners, while giving less space to vast dialectal variation. In a third example, Iranian citizens strategize name choice, which add to the multiplicities of identities in the face of the Organization of Civil Registration that requires selecting from a name-list, with the further negotiation of sociocultural differences through signifying names as symbolic capital. Finally, the geographical divisions faced by the Syrian Orthodox community in the diaspora, in conjunction with centuries of ideological divisions among the Eastern Christian churches, have led to dis-junctures in the notion of what counts as an authentic language for the community and set up complex relationships between the institutions of the church, academia, and the various nation-states within which the communities live. All of the papers in this panel focus on how counterdiscourses are constructed and negotiated through multiple conflicting and layered framings, stances, and linguistic strategies. Together, these studies complicate the assumed binary division between structure and agency, with emphasis on the place of agents in institutions, and structural resistance that emerges from the institutions.