Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Identity and Equity
Secondary Theme: Resistance
The importance of peer interaction and peer socialization in shaping identity development is not new to linguistic anthropologists, sociocultural linguists, and language socialization scholars. Indeed, the application of an ethnographic lens to classroom “side talk” (Lemke 1990), “third spaces” (Gutierrez, Rymes, & Larson 1995), and language play more generally (e.g., Rampton 2005) continues to reveal the multifaceted nature of peer socialization in school settings. Youth create spaces within spaces, sometimes born out of resistance to the status quo, as a means of bridging multiple worlds. However, even when peer interaction is the focus of school-based ethnographic research, few studies directly examine the role of peer language socialization in weaving together disciplinary and social identities in K-16 settings. Peer interaction can provide a productive context for disciplinary identity formation, and this panel continues to examine how peer socialization contributes to disciplinary identity development in heteroglossic primary, secondary, and undergraduate education settings.
In this panel, we borrow Bakhtin’s (1981) concept of heteroglossia to frame the various registers that students appropriate and deploy in classroom interaction--whether named languages, discipline-specific language, or other codes--and examine what these registers index about students in their local contexts. Though social labels and binary identities are often invoked in moment-to-moment discursive interactions, students also craft more complex and layered identities that involve racial(ized), gendered, and expertise-related dimensions, perhaps drawing on familiar social identities in their positioning of one another vis-à-vis school subject knowledge and other scholastic skills. Our consideration of heteroglossic classroom spaces involves understanding what is at stake in the mastery of particular modes (including those that index particular social types), and what this means for the way that peers negotiate competence and expertise in the absence of the resident expert, i.e. the teacher. By focusing on contexts in which the teacher is largely or completely physically and verbally absent from student interactions, or at most plays only a marginal role in them, we treat expertise as emergent, ephemeral, and contingent upon interactional factors.
The papers in this panel use various linguistic anthropological approaches to examine how students draw on semiotic resources to construct these complex identities in heteroglossic learning spaces where academic registers and school media commingle with youthful social registers and ways of knowing. By examining how students develop social identities related to disciplinary expertise in peer group interactions, this panel reimagines how particular linguistic resources are invoked, recycled, and circulated in peer-group communities. The topics explored by papers in this panel include the enregisterment (Agha 2005) of “academic language”, the tensions encountered by international teaching assistants in undergraduate courses, the symbolic practices of children in two communities ambivalent about schooling, the orientations of African-French youth to the symbolic value of Standard French, the invocation of the science-nerd trope in an American high school science class, and the double-voiced performance of expertise among technical school students in Italy. The panel draws on ethnographic research in K-16 settings to make theoretical contributions to the linguistic anthropology of education.