Call for abstracts for edited volume on sign language ideologies and local theories of sign languages and multiple modalities

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Call for abstracts for edited volume on sign language ideologies and local theories of sign languages and multiple modalities (Deadline: 15 October 2016)

While much research has taken place on language attitudes and ideologies regarding spoken languages, research on sign language ideologies is only just emerging. This book will explore how signers, and others, understand sign languages and their relationships to other languages (signed or spoken) and modalities (including speech and writing). Like speakers, signers often make use of multilingual language repertoires. The concept of “modality” is central here, since sign languages are minority languages using the visual-gestural and tactile modalities, whose affordances are very different from spoken languages using the auditory-oral modality.

This book therefore contributes to current theoretical trends that focus on how on-the-ground language practices frequently draw on multilingual multimodal repertoires, often conceptualised in neologisms such as translanguaging and polylanguaging. In this research there is a strong emphasis on connecting the study of language practice with the investigation of language ideologies. Yet within this research, based on speakers rather than signers, there is a virtual absence of scholarship on ideologies on the visuo-gestural and tactile modalities. This book will go beyond bounded notions of spoken language, signed language and even written language to interrogate how ideologies are part and parcel of how people think about and experience communication and understanding.

To this end, the book will assemble a number of chapters from a range of empirically grounded perspectives on the relationship between ideology and sign language use, planning, and teaching.

Themes include but are not limited to the following:
• sign languages as bounded systems;
• sign languages in relation to other sign languages;
• sign languages in relation to spoken languages;
• sign languages in relation to written languages;
• the continuum(s) of sign language and gesture;
• the use of multimodal and multilingual repertoires;
• status and use of sign languages and of particular varieties (such as urban and/or rural varieties, older versus newer generations of signers, elite versus non-elite varieties);
• sign language maintenance;
• sign language standardization;
• sign language and the discourse of rights;
• ownership of sign languages;
• sign language monolingualism versus multilingualism;
• linguistic purism and prescriptivism; and
• methodologies for investigating sign language ideologies.

We are mainly interested in studies of language ideologies on the ground, whether or not they interact with ideologies at the institutional level. Indeed, language ideologies are often situation-dependent and often seemingly contradictory since they are connected to particular contexts and differ across contexts, and implicitly or explicitly, everyday language practices also involve ideas about those practices. We especially welcome ethnographically-based contributions, but contributions could also be based on historical research, for example. Authors do not have to use the term “language ideologies”; other analytic traditions that focus on “discourses about language,” “metalanguage”, “metalinguistic reflection”, or “local theories,” for example, are welcome. While the book as a whole focuses on language ideologies related to the use of different modalities and languages, particular chapters could focus on single modalities or languages.

• Annelies Kusters (Department of Socio-Cultural Diversity, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity)
• Mara Green (Department of Anthropology, Barnard College, Columbia University)
• Erin Moriarty Harrelson (Erin Elizabeth) (Department of Anthropology, American University)
• Kristin Snoddon (School of Linguistics and Language Studies, Carleton University)

We aim at publishing the book at the SLDC series by Mouton De Gruyter/Ishara Press (, subject to the final approval of the book proposal that will be submitted after having selected the abstracts.

In your abstract (max 300 words) please include:
– Name, affiliation (if any)
– Theme / rationale
– Methodology
– Spell out how you think your chapter will contribute to the book
– A biography and/or qualifications statement about yourself (max 100 words)

Please, send your abstract to: by 15 October 2016. You will be notified of acceptance by 30 October 2016. The deadline for the first draft of the chapters is 1 May 2017.

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