Hispanic or Latino? A Sociolinguistic Perspective

We recently published Speaking Spanish in the US by Janet M. Fuller and Jennifer Leeman. In this post Jennifer writes about the difference between the terms ‘Hispanic’ and ‘Latino’.

Recent growth in the share of the US population that identifies as Hispanic or Latino (as well as feminine Latina and the gender-neutral and non-binary Latinx) has been accompanied by increased attention to the labels themselves. There are ongoing debates about whether these pan-ethnic labels correspond to an ‘authentic’ identity, or people’s own sense of themselves as well as their lived experience or if, conversely, they are an ‘artificial’ creation of the US government. Nor is there consensus among scholars, advocates or anyone else whether that identity, assuming it actually exists, should be considered ‘ethnic’ or ‘racial.’ While we explore both of these issues in our new book, the focus of this post is on a third point of contention: the labels themselves. Specifically, is there a difference between Hispanic and Latino/a/x, and if so, what is it? The meaning of these labels is a perennial topic of lively discussion. It is especially timely this year, given that 2020 is a census year and the US census includes a question on Hispanic or Latino origin. Sociolinguistic perspectives on language, and on the relationship of language to identity, can offer insights into the meaning of the terms as well as into why such discussions are important and never seem to reach resolution.

On one hand, many dictionaries present Hispanic and Latinx/o/a as synonyms, as does the US Office of Management and Budget (the federal agency that mandates the race and ethnicity categories to be used on the census), and many speakers use the two terms interchangeably. One the other hand, numerous scholarly essays, news articles, and social media posts insist that they are not in fact the same. Although there is some variation in popular and scholarly explanations of the purported differences, etymology typically figures prominently. Specifically, most authors trace the origins of the word Hispanic to Hispania, the region of the Roman empire that comprised the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal today); some accounts also describe Hispanic as an Anglicized shortening of hispanoamericano, an inhabitant of Spain’s former American colonies. For its part, Latino is described as a deriving from latinoamericano, and many authors note that Latin America is a 19th century construction differentiating the areas in the Americas colonized by France, Portugal and Spain from those colonized by England. Thus, many claim that Hispanic refers to people with a connection to former Spanish colonies (but not Brazil) while Latina/x/o includes all Latin Americans and their descendants (but not people from Europe). Ethnoracial and linguistic diversity within Latin America and Spain is often glossed over in such discussions.

For the most part, etymologically-based accounts of the difference between Hispanic and Latinx/a/o assume a straightforward and enduring one-to-one correspondence between words and their meanings, as well as a similarly rigid understanding of identities and their relationship to labels. In this view, once we know the origin of a word, we know its meaning. However, one of the basics of human language is that it is always undergoing change; not only do pronunciations and sentence structures change over time, so do the semantic and social meanings of words. Thus, while etymology is interesting, and it can tell us something about how words have been used historically, it doesn’t reveal their complete meaning. For sociolinguists, the meaning of words is not contained within the words themselves but in the way they are used and understood in a given context. In the case of ethnoracial labels, this often goes hand-in-hand with varied social constructions of ethnoracial categories, which can vary from place to place as well as over time.

In addition to characterizing identities as socially constructed, sociolinguist approaches also stress that language plays a central role in the creation and performance of identities. Indexicality, or the way that particular linguistic forms or practices ‘point to’ particular attitudes, stances or identities, is key to this process. Specifically, when speakers speak in a particular way, or use one particular word, they rely on socially shared associations between linguistic forms and social meanings to signal something about themselves. Symbolic and indexical meanings play an especially important role in shaping people’s preferences for either Hispanic or Latino/x/a. For many people, the term Hispanic is seen as elevating European heritage and erasing Native and African cultures, peoples and languages. Despite the equally Eurocentric etymology of Latino/x/a, this term for many people indexes a more inclusive recognition of diversity.  In some contexts, using Latino/x/a (and especially when pronounced with Spanish, rather than English, phonology) is a way of enacting a particular kind of ethnoracial pride and/or sociopolitical awareness. In addition, the use of Latinx can signal one’s support for gender inclusivity. In sum, the choice between Hispanic and Latino/x/a (as well as other identity labels) depends not only on the specific ethnoracial identity of the person it refers to, but also on the sociopolitical stance and identity of the speaker. Importantly, indexical meanings are also variable and contextually dependent, rather than fixed within the words themselves. As such, it’s not surprising that the precise meanings of these labels, as well as which one is ‘better’, is highly contested, as are debates about just what it means to be either one.

Jennifer Leeman

For more information about this book please see our website

If you found this interesting, you might also like Learning and Not Learning in the Heritage Language Classroom by Kimberly Adilia Helmer.

Translanguaging and Collaborative Research

This month we published Translanguaging as Transformation edited by Emilee Moore, Jessica Bradley and James Simpson. In this post the editors talk about the research collaborations that led to the book.

The genesis of our new book was our work together on the project Translation and Translanguaging (known as TLANG). TLANG was a large multi-site ethnographic study of communication across languages and cultures in four UK cities. It was led by Angela Creese in Birmingham, and we, the editors of this book, were on the Leeds-based team. From the start we carried out our work collaboratively, an approach that is in some ways quite different from traditional research, and we regarded our participants as co-researchers in the study. This manifested itself in different ways, in relation to the research settings themselves. For example, our work in a capoeira group involved researchers also participating in the class. In the TLANG project’s Creative Arts Labs, which Jessica helped to develop, we also explored how we, as researchers, might work with creative practitioners from across the arts – a dancer, an opera composer, a visual artist, a story-teller – to experience different processes of knowledge construction.

Alongside the TLANG project we were involved in other collaborative research: with a diverse group of street artists in Slovenia (Jessica), with the poets of Leeds Young Authors (Emilee), and with the West Yorkshire community arts group Faceless Arts (Jessica and James). This led to the creation of the AILA Research Network for Creative Inquiry in Applied Linguistics, co-convened by Emilee, Jessica and our Leeds colleague Lou Harvey, who was undertaking research in dramatic inquiry, also working with creative practitioners.

All this prompted us to reflect upon collaborative research processes, and how they appeared to disrupt traditional research hierarchies. We found others who were carrying out research in intercultural communication in similar ways, and equally productively. We’re delighted that some have become authors of chapters in our book. For us, and for our fellow chapter authors, collaborative research allows the inclusion of voices of those who are not typically heard, the voices of those who have ways of knowing and doing that differ from our own. This is important because it makes the creation of knowledge a more democratic process: our explorations take place not only with fellow academics, but with practitioners and participants from different walks of life and work, and on an equal footing. However, we understand that there is still much work to be done in this area, and our concerns are that the current global situation may make this even harder, as borders close, educational systems are disrupted and an international economic downturn seems inevitable.

As with other established translanguaging research, the outputs of the projects reported in our book disturb the boundaries of languages, and those between languages and other communicative modes. Our aim though is to emphasise the relationships and processes, as well as the products, of collaborative research. By examining the relationships that are built for and through collaborative research we want to make the backstage visible, including the challenges and tensions inherent in this kind of research. By looking at collaborative processes we enable insights into the ownership of knowledge in terms of whose voices are heard and whose voices are therefore considered worth hearing. And a focus on the outcomes of collaboratively-produced research allows us to consider their tangible transformative potential, and what might follow.

We had intended to finish by saying how proud we are to have co-edited a book reporting on collaborative research activity: this, as we say in our introduction, presents a welcome challenge to the privileging of the single academic voice. However, writing as we are in May 2020, during a global pandemic and with mobility massively constrained, our thoughts turn to our own collaborative research. Our work together as editors was characterised by convivial meetings at the University of Leeds, continuing in the cafés around the campus. Now we are apart, and all working from home. We barely leave our towns, and easy international travel seems unlikely. All our collaborators and partners are in the same position, and in many cases hugely precarious. What does this mean for the future of collaborative research?

Emilee Moore Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona Emilee.Moore@uab.cat @emooredeluca

Jessica Bradley University of Sheffield jessica.bradley@sheffield.ac.uk @JessMaryBradley

James Simpson University of Leeds j.e.b.simpson@education.leeds.ac.uk @jebsim

 

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Making Signs, Translanguaging Ethnographies edited by Ari Sherris and Elisabetta Adami. 

Language Continues to Divide Us, Despite Globalisation

This month we published The Dynamics of Language and Inequality in Education edited by Joel Austin Windle, Dánie de Jesus and Lesley Bartlett. In this post Joel explains the book’s focus and how it came about.

Some of the world’s most enduring and pervasive social divisions are maintained through language practices and ideologies embedded in education. If we scratch beneath the surface of globalization’s connectivity and mobility, we find an underbelly of linguistic inequality, but also, more encouragingly, resistance to oppressive language practices. This is they central premise of The Dynamics of Language and Inequality in Education.

Our focus is on the Global South, where the promises of European modernity are exposed as underpinned by a geopolitics of imperialism that structure linguistic inequalities in sometimes surprising ways. For example, for two centuries the Portuguese crown and Jesuit missionaries relied on an Indigenous language, Língua Geral, to conquer and exploit the peoples of the Amazon, rather than Portuguese. In contemporary African schooling, a complex linguistic market sees old colonial languages displaced by new ones as markers of distinction. English, replete with ideologies of race, class and coloniality, plays a central role in the contemporary scenario. It has gradually displaced Russian as the prestige language of Mongolian higher education, revealed in online practices and lines of exclusion that mirror ancient urban-rural divides. In the Pacific Islands and Latin America, the teaching and policing of English brings practices of shaming and feelings of inadequacy in which race plays a central role. Sensitive ethnographic work by authors from each of these settings, amongst many others, brings out the complexity of boundary formation as not only delimiting, but also structuring linguistic contacts and exchanges around education.

The chapters also highlight the emergence of critical consciousness of the ideological dimensions of language and resistance to linguistic inequalities, along with the wider social divisions they shape. This is evident in feminist pedagogies in language education in Saudi Arabia, queer pedagogies in Brazilian teacher education, and plurilingual literacy pedagogies in South Africa. The book emerged from a shared commitment amongst the editors and authors to these resistant pedagogies and from an emerging research network of critical scholars, most of whom are connected through Brazil.

The initial idea emerged from discussions I had with Dánie de Jesus during a post-graduate course on Bourdieu and literacy which I taught at the Federal University of Mato Grosso. Dánie and I both work as teacher educators in Brazil, while Lesley Bartlett, an anthropologist based in the US, has long-term Brazilian connections through her work on adult literacy in Rio de Janeiro and Pernambuco. In contrast to work from the global north that often sees globalization as a unifying, boundary-weakening process, our Brazilian experiences suggested the need to counter this view with perspectives from what Raewyn Connell, in Southern Theory, termed “the pointy end of globalization”.

Joel Windle

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Multilingualism, (Im)mobilities and Spaces of Belonging edited by Kristine Horner and Jennifer Dailey-O’Cain.

How Language, Religion and Society are Interconnected

We recently published Language Maintenance, Revival and Shift in the Sociology of Religion edited by Rajeshwari Vijay Pandharipande, Maya Khemlani David and Miriam Eisenstein Ebsworth. In this post the editors introduce us to their new book.

Language Maintenance, Revival and Shift in the Sociology of Religion is dedicated to the memory of two great minds, Tope Omoniyi and Joshua Fishman, who revealed to sociolinguists and sociologists the interconnectedness of language and religion. Inspired by their insights, we are proud to present this volume, which includes the work of scholars from different parts of the world, working on a range of languages and faiths.

One of the striking features of this volume is the authors’ use of multidisciplinary approaches and perspectives regarding the relationships between language, religion and society, which significantly enhances our understanding of the phenomena. The landscape of this collection covers a vast terrain of geographically and historically diverse societies across the globe with astonishing variation in their sociopolitical and religious conditions and their influence on the maintenance, revival and shift of languages.

Presenting rich, empirically validated data evaluated within sound theoretical frameworks, this volume will be a valuable resource for scholars who would like to discover local (culture and region-specific) as well as global (universal) determinants of the phenomena of maintenance, revival and shift of languages and religions in past and current social settings.

Readers can travel to diverse locations including Algeria, England, India, Israel, Malaysia, Nigeria, Singapore, Uganda and the United States to discover how religious traditions and practices impact the trajectory of languages such as Arabic, Hebrew, Malay, Mandarin, Pali, Portuguese, Punjabi, Sanskrit and Yoruba. They can explore the intersectionalities of language, religion, identity, policy, and history in societal and educational contexts through the research and interpretations of international scholars through this unique volume.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Spirituality and English Language Teaching edited by Mary Shepard Wong and Ahmar Mahboob.

Chronotopicity: The Inseparability of Time and Space

This month we are publishing Chronotopic Identity Work: Sociolinguistic Analyses of Cultural and Linguistic Phenomena in Time and Space edited by Sjaak Kroon and Jos Swanenberg. In this post the editors discuss how their book explores the concept of chronotopicity.

How often have you encountered a colleague, for instance at an international sociolinguistics conference, who started talking to you about Bakhtin? And how often did you subsequently engage in a somewhat vague and not very satisfying discussion about some of Bakhtin’s central concepts like heteroglossia or chronotopicity?

Over the last few years, chronotopicity has received renewed attention, not only in the field of literary studies where Bakhtin coined it, but also in other scientific fields. The inseparability of time and space also applies to, for example, social interaction and recently several scholars have shed new light on the possible contributions of the concept of chronotopicity to theorizing in sociolinguistics. This almost automatically led to questions on whether and how the concept could be used in empirical, mainly ethnographically-oriented sociolinguistic research.

In our edited volume Chronotopic Identity Work, we attempt to bring together a variety of empirical studies that put some flesh on the bones of the rather abstract chronotopic theorizing as presented thus far in the field of sociolinguistics. By doing so, we aim to show how Bakhtin’s concept of chronotopicity can be used for unraveling the intricate relationships between language, culture and identity in an era of globalization, digitalization and superdiversity.

Our cooperation with colleagues who agreed to face the challenge of using chronotopicity as a central concept in their research has taken us to:

  • young adults in Mongolia interacting on Facebook through mixed and inverted language practices;
  • fame-seeking identity plays by so-called baifumei (white, rich, beautiful, young women), within the Chinese ‘attention economy’;
  • changes in picturing bureaucratic personhood through descriptions with deictics in local newspapers in Indonesia;
  • touristic entertainment in a former traditional rural neighborhood in China;
  • the commodification of cultural heritage and identity work in an ethnic minority community in Enshi, China;
  • navigations of teachers and students between different language regimes in a multicultural school in Denmark;
  • normative behavior and attitudes regarding different language resources in and around school situations in the Netherlands;
  • the construction and meaning of Polish identity in an immigrant community in a superdiverse neighborhood in Belgium.

We think this collection of sociolinguistic analyses through the lens of chronotopicity clearly illustrates how the concept can be used in empirical research and how it contributes to the understanding of identity work in relation to the context of time and space.

Sjaak Kroon and Jos Swanenberg

Department of Culture Studies & Babylon, Center for the Study of Superdiversity, Tilburg University (The Netherlands)

a.p.c.swanenberg@uvt.nl

 

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Multilingualism, (Im)mobilities and Spaces of Belonging edited by Kristine Horner and Jennifer Dailey-O’Cain.

Multilingualism – An Asset or A Threat?

We recently published Multilingualism, (Im)mobilities and Spaces of Belonging edited by Kristine Horner and Jennifer Dailey-O’Cain. In this post the editors explain the themes covered in the book.

Like many others in our profession, the two of us are highly mobile people. Each of us changed countries in order to take up our current academic positions – Kristine commutes between the small European country of Luxembourg and the UK, and Jennie relocated from the United States to Canada – and of course our work as linguists is full of regular trips both of the “long-haul” and “short hop” variety.

Even as much of the world we live in considers this kind of mobility of privileged white professional academics as unremarkable, though, the mobility of other kinds of people – such as those from the global South – is often considered far more problematic. While some of us can claim the right to call ourselves “skilled worker immigrants” or even “expats” (a term that conjures up a sort of glamorous yet highly temporary “just passing through” lifestyle), others are dismissed by the societies we live in as “foreign workers” or “migrants”.

It is not all that different with multilingualism. Some forms of it are regarded as an asset or even as an essential skill (such as learning English or French in school and making use of those languages in an eventual work setting), while others can often be deemed problematic or even threatening to national unity. In the end, whether language is a resource, a barrier, or even a site of struggle will tend to come down to who you are, which languages you speak, and especially which contexts you are trying to use those languages in.

Our new book is about what mobility means in different circumstances, some of the different ways that language plays a role in those situations, and how complex social processes play a role in how these occasions and uses of language in those instances are perceived. In addition to our introduction, it includes nine previously unpublished research papers based on fieldwork in Africa, Asia, Australasia and Europe, and three insightful commentaries from experienced researchers that help tie the different papers together. Before publication, many of the contributing authors had the opportunity to discuss work in progress at workshops in Sheffield, England and Cape Town, South Africa. These meetings led to thought-provoking discussions that led us to reflect further on our positionality as scholars. This process was pivotal to the development of the book.

Divided into three thematic sections, the book explores the contestation of spaces and the notion of borders, examines the ways that heritage and authenticity are linked or challenged, and interrogates the intersections between mobility and hierarchies as well as the ways that language can be linked to issues of belonging. We believe that future research will benefit from connecting scholarship in sociolinguistics more closely to scholarship in migration studies and globalization studies. This book is a step along this pathway.

 

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Sociolinguistic Perspectives on Migration Control edited by Markus Rheindorf and Ruth Wodak.

Are Spanish L1 Users More Direct than English L1 Users in the Workplace?

We recently published Exploring Politeness in Business Emails by Vera Freytag. In this post the author explains what inspired her to write the book.

For several decades, there has been the view in cross-cultural pragmatics that Spanish L1 users reveal a higher level of directness than English L1 users, irrespective of a particular language variety. This view was established and reconfirmed in a wide range of comparative studies by means of data elicitation methods such as the Discourse Completion Task.

Having lived in both language cultures for some time and worked with both English and Spanish L1 users, I was increasingly interested in the question of whether directness and politeness are language-dependent dimensions and to what extent contextual factors play a role in one’s use of linguistic strategies and their perception in terms of directness and politeness. Specifically in the workplace context, does it matter if the sender and recipient know each other well? Does it matter whether the sender is of higher, lower or equal hierarchical status compared to the recipient? Does the communication channel matter? Does it matter whether the sender and recipient are of the same or opposite sex?

When I was given the chance to collect 600 English and Spanish business emails of a Community of Practice that I had worked for for six months, I was excited to immerse myself in this email corpus and investigate the contextual complexities that underlie the event of writing email directives. During the time of data analysis and the challenging task of finding explanations for my – partially unexpected – findings, I soon learned that there are many more factors apart from language that appear to influence the choice and perception of a particular directive strategy. I also learned that the complexity of language use and perception can only be examined through a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods both with regard to the collection and interpretation of the data.

Finally, the book reflects my attempt to shed some light on the interdependencies of language and culture in computer-mediated workplace directives and aims to contribute to the field of cross-cultural pragmatics by providing new insights.

 

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Objects, Bodies and Work Practice edited by Dennis Day and Johannes Wagner. 

The Politics of Language and Identity

This month we published Choosing a Mother Tongue by Corinne A. Seals. In this post the author describes an encounter with language, identity and politics on a visit to Ukraine in the winter of 2017.

While I was writing Choosing a Mother Tongue: The Politics of Language and Identity in Ukraine, I was constantly reflecting on language choice and use, especially when I would find myself at a Ukrainian community event with a Ukrainian language conversation happening to my left and a Russian language conversation happening to my right. However, the power of the politics of language and identity struck me particularly during a visit to Ukraine in the winter of 2017.

I had been in L’viv (Western Ukraine), traveled to Kyiv (Central Ukraine), and had just arrived back again in L’viv to the same hotel and same restaurants in which I had spent time during the first part of the trip. However, while I had been very conscious of my language use when first in L’viv (sticking to Ukrainian to align with the preference of most people in this city), I had just been in Kyiv where language choice and use was more fluid and where my hosts were Russian dominant speakers. Additionally, my trip back to L’viv had been during a snowstorm, and in an exhausted state I was not as conscious of my language use.

L’viv during the snowstorm

When I went to grab a quick dinner at the restaurant next to where I was staying, I was bemused by the insistence of the maître d’ that she couldn’t understand me. “Surely,” I thought, “there must be something I’m doing wrong if this hasn’t happened to me before.” It was then that I realized I had been speaking to her in Russian (due to having just returned from Kyiv), but I was in a Crimean Tatar restaurant in L’viv.

This context is significant, as the Crimean Tatars have repeatedly been displaced by both the Soviet and Russian governments in history and had just been displaced again from Crimea not long before my trip to Ukraine. Recognizing my major faux pas, I switched to Ukrainian and apologized before repeating my request in Ukrainian. The maître d’ smiled slightly, nodded in acknowledgement, and proceeded with our conversation.

A Ukrainian poem in L’viv about language and identity by famous poet, Lesya Ukrainka

Now, Russian and Ukrainian are similar enough that most people can at least loosely understand one if you speak the other. So, this was highly unlikely to be a case of not having proficiency in a language. Rather (and as further informed by our interaction), this was a political statement reflecting linguistic history and identity. It was more important for the maître d’ to uphold her linguistic principles than to make the transaction. However, my awareness and acknowledgement of this, as well as my subsequent linguistic alignment with her, meant that all was again equal.

This is one of many examples that speaks to the strength of connection between language and identity, as well as the importance of being aware of current and historical events related to language and politics wherever you are.

Corinne Seals (Mykytka), Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

corinne.seals@vuw.ac.nz

 

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Language, Identity and Education on the Arabian Peninsula edited by Louisa Buckingham.

What Role do Objects Play in Human Interaction?

We recently published Objects, Bodies and Work Practice edited by Dennis Day and Johannes Wagner. In this post Dennis discusses how the book came about.

That things matter in our interactive dealings with others is a premise of our book which we hope you will enjoy! A wide range of circumstances and objects are explored in the book, from receipts in shoe shops to moving forklifts in a warehouse. The subtext of the book is that talk, while central, is not the only thing going on in human interaction. For us, meaning in interaction is not only verbally but also bodily and materially constructed.

The book originates in a research project – Social Objects for Learning and Innovation (SOIL), run at the Department of Design and Communication at the University of Southern Denmark. The principle investigators in the project were myself, Johannes Wagner and Maurice Neville. In the beginning of the project, Maurice, along with other colleagues, was busy editing the book’s forerunner Interacting with Objects: Language, materiality, and social activity (John Benjamins).

Johannes and I had earlier been working with industrial designers, particularly their use of objects as proxies in design workshops, so naturally we wanted to be part of Maurice’s book and to recruit him into a project on objects and interaction as well. Johannes and I were holding a workshop for designers on Ethnomethodology and as a class exercise, we had groups of student explore ‘inscrutable objects’. The idea was for them to select based on how one goes about determining what something ‘is’. By chance we filmed one of the groups and ‘Eureka!’, there was our chapter for Maurice’s book.

The next step in our process was to arrange a conference panel with presumptive contributors to the book. This we did at the Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice Conference in Milan in 2015. We were very fortunate to have Ken Liberman visiting us in Denmark as guest professor at the time. Ken was a great help, not only with his great knowledge of Ethnomethodology and Phenomenology, but also with his recommendations for members of our panel.

Another important milestone for the book was our hosting of the 2015 International Institute for Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis. Many of the book’s chapters were further refined in conference presentations there, and we had the great privilege to discuss the book with Eric Laurier and Aug Nishizaka who were keynote speakers. Aug has further helped us by writing a postscript for the book.

As may be obvious from the variety of objects and circumstances covered in the book, we have been very open-minded. And why not? Everything we explore in studies of interaction happens in a context of material circumstances from within which objects can be made relevant. Sometimes they are mentioned verbally and sometimes they merely create the space we must navigate between us.

 

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Making Signs, Translanguaging Ethnographies edited by Ari Sherris and Elisabetta Adami.

Language Teacher Agency Matters!

This month we published Theorizing and Analyzing Language Teacher Agency edited by Hayriye Kayi-Aydar, Xuesong (Andy) Gao, Elizabeth R. Miller, Manka Varghese and Gergana Vitanova. In this post the editors explain how the idea for the book came about.

We witnessed scholars’ and teachers’ growing interest in language teacher agency throughout the process of producing this volume. This book idea was hatched over dinner at AAAL (2016 in Orlando, Florida) before a colloquium on language teacher agency in which we editors had all participated. The colloquium attracted a large number of keen attendees and ended with a lively discussion that we all enjoyed. It became clear that many of the attendees were also doing research on teacher agency, and we decided that it was important to bring these developing research studies together into an edited collection. A few months later we posted a Call for Papers, and we were overwhelmed by the response: we received more than 100 submissions! Language teacher agency clearly matters everywhere as these submissions include studies based in urban schools and rural schools, in university classes and church-based volunteer-provided classes, located in diverse national contexts including Australia, China, India, Japan, Mexico and the US. Now, several years later, we are delighted to see a good number of these submissions developed into chapters.

Language teacher agency is not easily defined, in part, because it is always contextually mediated. It thus seems inevitable that scholars will use different methods and focus on a range of topics in order to understand teacher agency in the particular contexts they are exploring. The chapters in this book explore teacher agency in relation to social justice and equity efforts, teacher identity and professional development, teacher evaluation processes, curricular decisions and innovations, and the creation of new teaching practices. It is likewise clear that scholars will adopt different theoretical approaches to help them make sense of the on-the-ground practices and activities that they observe. In this volume, authors draw on ecological theory, sociocultural theory, actor network theory, critical realism, and positioning theory. Our book is not prescriptive in nature; in other words, we do not tell teachers what they should do to be an agent. However, through systematic data collection, the chapters successfully document the complexities associated with language teacher agency in strikingly different contexts, which we believe offers unique insights, implications, and strategies for language teachers. Given the range of perspectives offered in this collection, we are hopeful that it will spark new and continually diversifying research approaches and methods.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Language Teacher Psychology edited by Sarah Mercer and Achilleas Kostoulas.