Please visit salsa.ling.utexas.edu for information about the most recent conference.
You may download a copy of the schedule here.
The keynote speakers for SALSA XXVI will be:
Drawing from debates in activist anthropology (Hale 2008) as well as my own ethnographic research on minority language revitalization (Urla 2012; 2014), this lecture will explore some of the political, methodological and epistemological challenges posed by an activist stance to the study of language-based social struggles. Foucault encouraged scholars to approach social struggles and their strategies of resistance as diagnostics of power rather than modes of “liberation” or shedding of power. In his view, it was the responsibility of critique to expose the unexamined assumptions on which the discursive practices of power and resistance rely. In the pursuit of this goal, however, our analyses often clash with and undermine foundational premises about language and identity on which struggles for language rights rely. How can we stay faithful to radical post-structural critique and also take the diagnosis of power to the next level? How can we go beyond the “reproduction thesis” – the idea that strategies of minority language advocacy reproduce dominant language ideology –that is so ubiquitous in scholarship on language activism? What are some of the ways our knowledge production can be made more generative for actors in such movements and more cognizant of the complex nature of their agency? This lecture will contemplate the contours of such a project and its challenges drawing from different case studies including my own work on Basque language revitalization and linguistic governmentality.
Jacqueline Urla, Professor of Anthropology, received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley and has been faculty at the University of Massachusetts Amherst since 1990. She has conducted long-term ethnographic research on language ideology and cultural activism in the Basque Country. She is currently part of a team research project on the language attitudes and identities of new speakers of minority languages. Her most recent work is Reclaiming Basque: Language, Nation and Cultural Activism (University of Nevada Press 2012).
Quebec is the only French majority society in North America whose provincial government succeeded in adopting its own language policies designed to increase the status and use of French relative to English in the province. Forty years of language planning in Quebec can in part be credited in having: 95% of the Quebec population gain knowledge of French, keeping 82% of all its citizens as users of French at home, keeping 97% of francophone pupils and 81% of Allophone pupils in the French school system, and reduce the size of the English school system by 60%. Pro-French laws ensured that 90% of Francophone employees use French most often at work, increased to 67% the ownership of the Quebec economy by Francophones, increased Anglophone French/English bilingualism to over 70% and contributed to the decline of its Anglophones minority from 13% of the Quebec population to 8.3% after the net outmigration of 320K Anglophones from the province. Anglophones who stayed in Quebec earn lower incomes than those who left and experience the decline of their educational, health and community institutions. Francophone nationalist discourse remains concerned about threats to French by highlighting that the Francophone majority in Montreal is declining close to 50% and that Francophones remain a minority of 23% within Canada and less than 2% within North America. Can Quebec Francophones of today accept a ‘paradigm shift’ by reframing their position from a fragile majority to that of a dominant majority within Quebec?
Decline and Prospects of the English-Speaking Communities of Quebec (Bourhis 2012)
Assessing forty years of language planning on the vitality of the Francophone and Anglophone communities of Quebec (Bourhis and Sioufi 2017)
Richard Bourhis obtained a BSc in Psychology at McGill University, Canada and a PhD in Social Psychology at the University of Bristol, England. He taught at McMaster University in Ontario and is full Professor in Psychology at l’Université du Québec à Montréal since 1988. Richard Bourhis published extensively in English and French on topics such as immigration and acculturation, cross-cultural communication, discrimination and intergroup relations, and language planning.
“Bubbles,” “silos,” “cocoons,” “echo chambers” are labels now commonly used by academics, media commentators, and citizens alike to lament the divided communicative condition of the US electorate. A topic of concern in recent presidential elections, the election of Donald Trump has only intensified worries over a populace seemingly segregated by the media ecosystems they engage with. Taken as an indicator of the state of liberal democracy in the US, such communicative anxieties bespeak the continued potency of the intertwined social and communicative imaginaries of an “American public” forged through a “national conversation” held in a Habermasian public sphere. At the same time, bubbles, silos, and cocoons disrupt this imaginary of a public, whose sine qua non after all is its inclusion of all citizens in the discursive life of the polity. The sorts of communicative practices and media technologies that make such an inclusive public sphere imaginable have been the topic of much discussion in linguistic anthropology and beyond. But how does a communicative imaginary of bubbles—a kind of anti-public sphere—take shape and acquire prominence? One significant catalyst, I argue here, is found in the speech of Donald Trump and particularly the incoherence so often attributed to it. The allusions of Trump’s rhetoric and their elusion of mainstream media audiences together serve to delineate the communicative bubbles in which mainstream media audiences no less than audiences of right-wing media have discovered themselves to be enclosed. As an increasingly compelling communicative imaginary of the polity, these anti-public spheres now serve as a framework through which people are re-orienting themselves to their fellow citizens and their future together.
James Slotta is an assistant professor in the anthropology department at the University of Texas at Austin. He earned his doctorate in Anthropology and Linguistics at the University of Chicago. His research focuses on knowledge and cultural concepts, their manifestation in language use, and the political frameworks that shape the way they are communicated and circulated. His primary research is set in the Yopno valley of Papua New Guinea, where he writes about knowledge-in-circulation and the role of listening in the “anarchic” polities there. He has also worked to document the Yopno language and some of its many dialects, making those materials available through the Endangered Languages Archive. And he has collaborated on an investigation of Yopno conceptions of space and time through research on linguistic and gestural practice. He has written on issues of knowledge, communication, and politics in North American contexts as well, looking at truth and reconciliation processes, slang use, and now the rhetoric of Donald Trump.
This presentation explores the challenges and rewards of transdisciplinary and transmedia scholarly and creative work focused on culture, space, and identity—especially when it critically engages individual and cultural trauma. The presentation focuses specifically on recursive photography and mobile fieldwork conducted over the last 15 years throughout the American Southwest as part of an ongoing study of road trauma shrines, those vernacular roadside memorial assemblages built by private individuals at sites where family or friends have died in automotive accidents.
Road trauma shrines represent absent bodies while being things themselves, and they do so while doing something while being embedded in everyday landscapes literally zooming with convergent and divergent activities. Each shrine replaces the interrupted life of the victim with a proxy virtual life that is allowed to take its course as the victim’s life was expected to before being interrupted by the crash. As such, shrines not only literally re-place the victim in social space, but also compensate for the dis-placed victim’s lost future as a social entity while also serving as the location for the ongoing “working-through” of trauma for those left behind. And especially when shrines change and decay over time, that first transference of body to object is further materialized in the form of melancholy remains, revealing that the shrine as proxy memory/space is not only living, but also dying—all over again, there on the roadside, in front of the motoring public.
Because roadside shrines communicate in ways that are not only more than linguistic, but also more than visual, more than material, and more than spatial (and thus visual/material/spatial), they constitute a rich site for exploring the communicative dimensions of visual, material, and spatial culture--particularly in this presentation, which also is performed through the tension between writing and image-making.
Robert M. Bednar is Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, where he teaches courses in critical media studies, visual communication, memory studies, and the cultures of automobility. His work as an analyst, photographer, and theorist of visual culture, material culture, and spatial culture focuses on the ways that extra-linguistic phenomena such as objects, pictures, and spaces communicate by not only representing things but also doing things. He is particularly interested in the affective and performative dimensions of everyday communicative behavior, especially the ways that people perform identities visually, materially and spatially as they negotiate shared, public spaces. He has published a number of scholarly and popular articles on roadside shrines and National Park snapshot photography practices in the United States, and has recently completed a book manuscript on road trauma shrines titled Road Scars: Trauma, Memory, and Automobility.