#LSJ2016 at the American Anthropological Association

Anthropologists reflect on issues of language and social justice at the annual meeting of American Anthropological Association 2016 in Minneapolis.


  1. At this year's AAA Meeting, the Committee for Language and Social Justice (part of the Society of Linguistic Anthropology) convened several panels and discussions to further our understanding of how language and social justice intersect.
  2. Beyond the oxygenated conversations, a group of us (Mariam Durrani, Netta Avineri, Kate Riley, Hilary Dick, and Susan Blum) from the Language and Social Justice Committee planned a social media campaign to document the conversations using a multimodal, multi-authorial, and multi-rhetorical approach.
  3. We hope that this holistic response will increase awareness of the LSJ’s work on social justice by providing an accessible window onto the diverse ways linguistic anthropologists explore the interconnections among language (its structure, use, and ideology) and a number of pressing anthropolitical issues.

  4. This Storify is divided into three parts. The first section focuses on multilingual education and social justice. Most of this section has been drawn from the SLA Presidential Conversation, connecting the analysis by our live tweeters about the presentations with the presentation summaries from the original authors. We have also included links to articles and websites for further reading. The second section explores the digital conversation related to both LSJ and non-LSJ panels LSJ members went to, focusing on questions about how anthropologists interface with a number of marginal communities. And the final section focuses on teaching against bigotry in everyday speech. These tweets were gathered from the LSJ committee meeting where we discussed the implications of the recent U.S. presidential election on language and social justice issues in our teaching, public/media outreach, and research.

  5. Overview of LSJ affiliated panels at the AAA 2016 Meeting: Over the five day conference, there were four events organized to invite participants to think about language and social justice: (1) The SLA Presidential Conversation on Multilingual Education & Social Justice (Thursday, 11/17 @ 12:15 – 1:30 pm); (2) Intersectional Perspectives on the Unethical Reliance on Contingent Labor in Academia (Friday, 11/18 @ 8:00 – 9:45 am); (3) Language and Social Justice Committee meeting (Saturday, 11/19 @ 12:15 – 1:30 pm); (4) AAA Committee for Human Rights Roundtable Human Rights, The Academy, and Beyond: How Anthropologists Engage (Saturday, 11/19 @ 1:45 – 3:30 pm).

  6. SECTION 1: Multilingual Education and Social Justice

  7. On November 17th, anthropologists gathered at the SLA Presidential Conversation on Multilingual Education and Social Justice, which included presentations by the following--
  8. ◦Indigenous Latino Immigrant Students in U.S. Schools: Challenges & Possibilities (Patricia Baquedano-López)
    ◦Proposition 58-LEARN in California (Bilingual Education) (Ted Everhart & Magaly Lavandez)
    ◦Misreadings and Unreadings of Blackness in Language Learning Classrooms and Scholarship (Krystal Smalls)
    ◦Heritage Language Education, Community Partnerships, & Social Justice (Netta Avineri & Shawna Shapiro)
    ◦Oshiinigilisha ashike gone awry in Namibia over 25 years later: What counts as a language problem? (Rodney Hopson)
  9. Across these presentations, we considered the production and political impact of language ideologies, language practices, language socialization, language policies, and linguistic rights & discrimination in multilingual education. These presentations pushed us to consider:
    ◦Who is “indigenous”?
    ◦Whom is bilingual education for?
    ◦What is “intelligible” language?
    ◦What is a “heritage” language?
    ◦What counts as a “language problem”?
  10. For all of these questions we pondered--who decides what defines each of these areas and topics?