This post was written on the territory of the Taíno, the Indigenous peoples that Columbus encountered when he landed in the region in 1492. The Taíno have stewarded the islands of the Greater Antilles, now colonially named: Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, and Puerto Rico, and are descended from the Arawaks who live on the mainland of northern Abya Yala (South America) in countries now known as: Guyana, Venezuela, and Colombia. This highly mobile group have given the English language words like: canoe (canoa), hurricane (hurakán), tobacco (tabako), maize (mahis), iguana (iwana), barbecue (barabicu), and hammock (hamacas). As Curet (2010) explains, the Taíno are often contrasted with a rival tribe in the Lesser Antilles: the Kalinago or Caribes, for which the Caribbean is named.
Maria Chiras, our guest blogger this week, is an English instructor at an English college in Montreal, Quebec. Her academic and professional contributions at the college include her involvement in curriculum coordination, committee work, and research projects. Her research interests include plurilingual, and translingual theories, discourse studies, writing studies and new literacies. Her research interests emerge from her own educational experiences as a plurilingual student in Montreal, Quebec. She has recently completed her doctoral research at McGill University, Faculty of Education, in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education. Her research focused on the role of plurilingualism in students’ experiences with language education and writing and the implications of these experiences for student persistence in Quebec higher education, in particular, the interaction between cultural identity, language, and writing. https://www.mcgill.ca/plurilinguallab/maria-chiras
As a first blog post for BILD, I would like to focus on my own personal narrative as a plurilingual growing up in Montreal and what led me to pursue my PhD research. I believe that our positionality plays a crucial role in how we approach both our research and our pedagogical practices.
“I’ve got a book I want to share with you that I think you’re really gonna like, Jennifer,” Merrill says, holding the red covered book in her right hand, glancing at its cover. She does not immediately hand me the book, of course. She has this way of building anticipation, of taking a listener on a journey with her. “It’s by Blackledge and Creese and published by Multilingual Matters in 2020. It’s certainly unique and going to open up a lot of possibilities in the field!” She pauses before passing it in my direction.
Content Warning: Homophobic crimes and government persecution
This post is adapted from a forthcoming article.
This week’s blog post includes a linked audio file. Just click on the link below if you would like to hear the post read aloud. Scroll down to read the text.
In a 2017 interview, Chechnyan President Ramzan Kadyrov laughed off [Content warning: video contains hate speech] a question about the torture and murder of gay people in his small Caucasian republic: “That’s nonsense. We don’t have that kind of people here.” Many of Kadyrov’s compatriots would believe him, because to many, gay people in Chechnya—and indeed, across much of the Russian-speaking world—are invisible. The ongoing purge of gay Chechnyans presents a chilling catch-22: When people want you to be invisible, of course it’s dangerous to be seen, but invisibility poses dangers of its own.
Dairn Alexandre (a pseudonym) is a regular BILD guest blogger; for more information about Dairn, and to read his earlier posts, click here. Dairn has taught in Quebec and now works as a teacher in Alberta, where he lives with his wife, two kids, and dog.