Language and Social Processes SIG 58


Message from SIG Chair

The past 21 months has been one of the most challenging for educators and scholars, particularly for those of us who explore and foster critical engagement in a variety of disciplinary topics and issues, particularly those reflecting three major intersecting crises for our times: 

  • The often hidden systemic racist, sexist, and xenophobic structures and policies that continue to spur socio-political upheaval and threats to democracy;
  • economic hardship that, due to aforementioned systemic inequities, are unevenly experienced across communities; and 
  • the impending threats of global climate change on all who depend on Earth’s resources to live. And we are dealing with this trifecta in the context of a global pandemic, which has brought even greater hardship, especially for those of us who were already overextended. 

What I have come to appreciate in ways that I had not anticipated was how much the work that we do matters in these times of multiple intersecting crises. This is why I look forward to seeing and talking with you at our next meeting in San Diego. This is an opportunity for us to reaffirm who we are and how we want to position ourselves as a catalyst for social change.

So many of us are engaging in critical work, working as research activists toward a more socially just society. We are proud to host a few webinars in 2022, the first of which will be scheduled for early February 2022 and will focus on the new book, Talking College, co-authored by LSP member Anne Charity Hudley with Christine Mallison and Mary Bucholtz. This book traces the linguistic experiences of African American undergraduate students across predominantly white institutions (PWIs), minority-serving institutions (MSIs), and historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Another webinar event to take place sometime in March will focus on an upcoming special issue in the journal Linguistics & Education on new insights into notions of silence, or silencing and how they shape our social and academic spaces. It was an honor to contribute as co-editor and author to this project with such an amazing team of scholars that include LSP members Ashley Patterson, Cathy Compton-Lilly, and Laura Taylor (our Newsletter Editor) as well as Amy Vetter, Melissa Shieble, Kathryn Mitchell-Pierce, Carol Gilles, and Mark Sulzer.  Please be on the lookout for the RSVP invitations to these and other webinars in January 2022.

One undeniable point to raise is the environmental cost of coming to this conference every year and ways that we can build a carbon offset into the price of conference registration for future conferences. Such a concern is gaining the spotlight in scholarly work (e.g., Nearly Carbon Neutral Conference Model) and wider media (e.g.,  article in the Guardian). As Chair of LSP, I am ambivalent about my role in supporting our program that will necessitate thousands of flights that will significantly contribute to our carbon footprint. 

Some sources suggest that the actual cost of offsetting wouldn’t necessarily be prohibitive; this  blog post, for example, claims that the average cost of offsetting “an entire conference attendee’s footprint including air travel is less than $20". And given our commitment to supporting students, we might consider ways to sponsor such additional fees. I believe that addressing this issue is no longer avoidable and conferences like AERA have an opportunity to demonstrate their leadership in  addressing the damage we're inadvertently doing when we gather together.

As this year continues to unfold, we’ll undoubtedly learn more about our world and our place in it. As such, we continue to cultivate inclusive, equitable spaces for the work that we can and must do. I look forward to learning with and from you at our next conference gathering. Until then, I wish you well and a peaceful, loving holiday season. I’ll be in touch in 2022.

Best, 

Diana Arya

LSP Chair 2021-2023