CFP Future Imperfect: Language in Times of Crisis and Hope (USA)

ConferencesCall for papers: 2020 Spring Conference of the Society for Linguistic Anthropology: “Future Imperfect: Language in Times of Crisis and Hope”, April 2-5, 2020, Boulder, Colorado, USA. Deadline: December 1, 2019.

The Society for Linguistic Anthropology, in partnership with graduate students in the Program in Culture, Language, and Social Practice (CLASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder, has announced the SLA 2020 Spring Conference, to take place at the Hiltons on Canyon in Boulder, Colorado, on April 2-5, 2020. The SLA Conference Steering Committee welcomes all submissions advancing the study of language and society, but we are especially interested in work that engages the 2020 conference theme: Future Imperfect: Language in Times of Crisis and Hope.

As human societies face the tragedies of climate, war, racism, corruption, and displacement that are projected to define the 21st century, the SLA 2020 Spring Conference calls upon scholars to question the way forward in an imperfect future world. The future inhabits our uncertain present, generating complex intersections of crisis and hope. The imperfect, as a verb construction, describes an ongoing, incomplete action. With this conference theme, we wish to highlight the ever-unfinished and evolving condition of academic research and its contribution to pressing sociopolitical issues. How do we, in our role as researchers, reconcile time-honored methodologies with the novel challenges that have arisen in contemporary social life? How can our academic labor more effectively address the concerns of the future? We welcome submissions that make use of diverse methods, both micro and macro, to explore the precarity and forms of resistance that characterize our contemporary moment. We are especially interested in submissions that address the ways that language use may both enable and contest the sociopolitical shifts that continue to destabilize human equality (and indeed the future of humanity itself), whether at local, national, regional, or global scales.

In its focus on imperfect futures, the conference theme additionally proposes disruption and transformation as necessary concepts for critical language study. In social analytic research, these concepts each invoke traditional paradigms as they move toward more innovative ways of thinking and doing. Organizers highlight disruption as a rethinking of relationships between researchers, participants, audiences, and methodologies. What counts as knowledge production in linguistic anthropology and related fields? Who gets to produce and circulate knowledge, and in what fora? How can we productively disrupt our reliance on knowledge systems that may be more suited to past instead of future concerns? Likewise, organizers highlight transformation as encompassing the many ways in which laypersons as well as researchers may change and advance the contours of language study to confront an increasingly anxious world. Through the reflexive interrogation of positionality and subjectivity, we search for emergent paths to take within—and beyond—the comfort zones in our research fields. Disruption and transformation, as mutually reinforcing, co-constitutive phenomena, create the opportunity for more critical and participatory directions in language study. This conference theme invites linguistic anthropologists and related researchers to reflect on ways to realize goals of racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, gendered, and other forms of social justice in times of crisis and hope.

Author: Center for Intercultural Dialogue

Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, the Director of the Center for Intercultural Dialogue, manages this website.

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