Road trips; or, On being an outsider, or not (#2) (by Dr. Mela Sarkar)

It’s late July. Our short and splendid Canadian summer is at its height; I have not been home in Montreal for nearly a month and won’t be for ne20Chi-CheemaunWake_Flagarly another. As I write this, the car ferry called the Chi-Cheemaun (“big canoe” in Ojibway) is taking me from Manitoulin (“of the Great Spirit”) Island, at the top of Lake Huron, to Tobermory, ON (a transplanted place name from Scotland). My sister and I are driving back east in the general direction of Toronto, for her, and Montreal, for me, from a family reunion in southern Manitoba.
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On being an outsider, or not (by Dr. Mela Sarkar)

The Canadian Anthropology Society / Société canadienne de l’anthropologie (known to its members as CASCA) had its annual conference a few days ago at Université Laval in Quebec City, and although I am not usually a member of CASCA or a presenter at this conference, it happened that this year I got asked to be on not one but two panels, so off I went. My research energy over the past few years has gone into into two main projects, one still funded (on Indigenous language revitalization), the other not any more (on Hip-Hop language in Montreal), and I got to talk about both. In the unfunded category, I was part of a panel on multilingualism as play, which is (as it should be!) such a fun idea. In academic-ese, people say “ludic” instead of “playful”, quite a lot. And sometimes they say “carnavalesque”. But this was a very relaxed panel where people did feel free to say they were being playful.
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A thumbnail sketch of an academic event (by Mehdi Babaei)

Today, I’m posting an overview of my sojourn at the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) and the Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics (CAAL) 2015 joint conference. The conference was held at the Fairmount Royal York Hotel in Toronto, a flashy, swanky hotel, with beautiful architecture, fancy rugs and chandeliers, and historical pictures, which to me, looked like the Grand Budapest Hotel– which hosted those interested in language-related issues. These people include top-notch scholars, editors, faculty members, new and senior researchers, and graduate students, who were congregated to discuss, share, or brainstorm ideas in the field of Applied Linguistics. What struck me was the diverse ways these scholars positioned themselves in the field and how they wanted to be identified. As I’m delving into my recollections of the conference, I will take you through the floors, hallways, rooms and tables of the conference venue, in which one or more people were either looking back at the history of applied linguistics, talking enthusiastically about their findings, or politely criticizing others’ ideas.
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Where to now? (by Dr. Mela Sarkar)

I believe in scholarship. I keep the words “scholar” and “scholarship” in a special separate compartment in my head, adjacent to but not quite touching words like “academic” and “university”. Anybody can be a scholar (at least according to this idiosyncratic vision of mine), no matter what else they happen to do, or how they earn their living. Or what class, colour, gender, ethnic origin (etc) they happen to be. It takes a lot of time, and may not be compatible with being highly social (this is probably idiosyncratic again, just because I’m not very social myself), but I truly think that anybody who takes the time to think and read and reflect seriously about things, pretty much anything, can call themself (I need this gender-neutral third-person singular reflexive pronoun!) a scholar.
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