Speaker: Angelica Galante
Date: August 25, 2023
Location (virtual): https://psu.zoom.us/j/6909441919
Speaker: Carl Ratner
Date: October 23, 2023
Location: Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library
This presentation explains racism in terms of Vygotsky’s cultural-historical psychological theory. This theory explains psychological phenomena as grounded in cultural conditions which are generated by political-economic systems. I will explain how racism fits this model. Du Bois’ sociological-historical work on racism is shown to fully support Vygotsky’s theory. Du Bois’ work extends and refines Vygotsky’s cultural-historical psychological theory with empirical and theoretical contributions. Reciprocally, cultural-historical psychology organizes Du Bois’ work on racism into a cogent, rigorous cultural-psychological theory. This theory corrects popular notions of racism which minimize its cultural-political-economic basis, character, operating mechanisms, and social function.
Carl Ratner is a Vygotskyian scholar who has elucidated and extended Vygotsky’s cultural- historical psychology in a formulation called Macro Cultural Psychology. Ratner has applied this approach to a range of psychological phenomena. In recent decades he has focused upon psychological issues in the political domain. These include neoliberal psychology, identity politics, and notions of cultural-psychological emancipation. A few weeks ago he delivered a keynote address to Southwest University, China on “Cultural Psychology as a Guide to Constructing a Global Community.” Ratner has lived and taught in India, China, Saudi Arabia, and England. He is the recipient of two Fulbright Fellowships.
Speaker: Francis M. Hult
Date: December 1, 2023
Time: 2:30-4:00 PM
Location: 073 Willard Building
Over the past two decades, there has been a growing focus in the field of language policy and planning (LPP) on the role of agency (Bouchard & Glasgow, 2019; Liddicoat & Taylor-Leech, 2021). Concepts such as implementational space (e.g. Hornberger, 2005) and an emphasis on individuals as policy arbiters (e.g., Johnson, 2013; Menken & García, 2010) or policy actors (e.g., Hult, 2015) in ethnographic and discourse analytic LPP research have emphasized the (potential) ways people have power to influence policy systems. Along with this foregrounding of agency, there has been a tendency to background or even exclude the affordances of social structures, including the interplay of structures and agency, for LPP processes. Accordingly, drawing on empirical findings from a larger project on language planning at the United Nations, the present talk argues for a renewed attention to a structure-agency dialectic in LPP.
Language policy at the UN is put in practice by a network of individuals working in an extensively hierarchized organizational system of multiple entities (McEntee-Atalianis, 2016).The UN Secretariat has appointed a cadre of staff as Multilingualism Focal Points (MFPs) to take leadership roles in implementing language policy in their entities. The overarching question guiding the present study is how do MFPs experience the UN organizational structure as either facilitating or constraining policy agency? Data were collected from MFPs using a survey triangulated with an elicitation task and semi-structured group discussion and analyzed using inductive qualitative coding (e.g., Saldaña, 2021). Findings show that MFPs experience structural constraints related to the allocation of time and money to support multilingualism while they identify opportunities for problem-solving and creative policy implementation within the scope of their structurally defined spheres of responsibility.These constraints and opportunities, it is shown, aligns with discursive processes that Bouchard & Glasgow (2019) refer to as morphostasis (tendency towards the status quo) and morphogenesis (tendency towards change). Considering the structureagency dialectic, then, contributes to a deeper understanding of how institutional (language) change is variously enabled or constrained.
Francis M. Hult works at the crossroads of discourse studies, sociolinguistics, and education. Known for his socially situated research on language policy and planning (LPP) using ethnographic and discourse analytic approaches, he has written widely about LPP theory and method. His books include Research Methods in Language Policy and Planning (with Johnson) and Language Policy and Language Acquisition Planning (with Siiner and Kupisch). He is the editor of the Educational Linguistics book series published by Springer and, together with Ofelia García, he also edits the Contributions to the Sociology of Language book series published by De Gruyter and founded by Joshua Fishman. A past UNESCO senior visiting scholar and Charles Ferguson fellow at the Center for Applied Linguistics, he is currently Professor of Education and by courtesy of Language, Literature, and Culture and Public Policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) where he also directs the Consortium for Language Policy and Planning.
Speaker: Nelson Flores
Date: February 16, 2024
Time: 2:30-4:00 PM
Location: Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library
Abstract: 1492 was a major turning point in Spain and by extension human history. It was not only the year that Columbus first arrived in what would become the Americas but also the year that the Spanish monarchy succeeded in expelling Jews and Muslims that refused to convert to Catholicism as part of La Reconquista and Antonio de Nebrija La Gramática de la Lengua Castellana, the first grammar of a modern language. At first glance, it may seem like these three events have little in common. Yet, Nebrija saw the purification of language as key to the continued purification of the Spanish population necessary for further consolidating the power of the Spanish monarchy. What Nebrija could not have predicted was that Spain would soon begin to create a new empire in lands previously unknown to them inhabited by people they had never previously encountered. It is in encounters with these new lands and people where Nebrija’s vision of a world of linguistic homogeneity would be further developed in relation to modern notions of race that would begin to overshadow religion as the major way of sorting the world’s population. This presentation traces the remapping of the world in Nebrija’s vision bringing particular attention to the ways that racialization has provided the ideological foundation for contemporary notions of competence that lie at the core of applied linguistics. It then points to alternative framings that embrace the inherent heterogeneity of language as the starting point for conceptualization language teaching and learning.
Bio: Nelson Flores is an associate professor in educational linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania. His research examines the intersection of language and race in shaping U.S. educational policies and practices. He has been the recipient of many academic awards including a 2017 Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship, the 2019 James Alatis Prize for Research on Language Planning and Policy in Educational Contexts and the 2022 AERA Early Career Award.