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2017 Conference - Ethnographic Research in Applied Linguistics Summary and Abstract
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Summary

The ethnographic researchers in this colloquium discuss and illustrate how epistemological/theoretical, ethical, and methodological insights from other disciplines, related to temporal and geographical scales, and notions of voice, heteroglossia, reflexivity, and relationality, among others, are informing and transforming ethnographic research internationally in applied linguistics in profound, innovative, and provocative ways.

Abstract

Ethnographic research in applied linguistics and other fields has gained tremendous ground and recognition since the 1980s. In anthropology, ethnography underwent years of critical re-examination in the 1990s and 2000s related to the so-called crisis in representation and ethical issues; issues of how best to describe and interpret patterns and change, (temporal and spatial) scales and 'scapes, problematic positionalities of researcher/ researched (or etic/emic), description vs. interpretation vs. critique, macro and micro binaries, and other contested notions.

Ethnographic research in applied linguistics continues to evolve in response not only to greater awareness of these concerns but also the changing global/local contexts in, and conditions under which, much contemporary sociolinguistic and educational research is conducted, often in very complex geo-social and interpersonal settings: involving migrant, transnational populations; widely dispersed and transitory networks of community members; dynamic, multilingual populations who defy traditional notions of speech communities (and instead, reflect poststructural and postcolonial themes of fragmentation, hybridity, syncretism, glocalization, and heteroglossia); participants dwelling or moving in multimodal, highly visual, virtual and/or Internet-mediated spaces; auto-ethnographers studying themselves; and an increasing assortment of other sites for studies, in homes, schools, community centers, workplaces, retail spaces, and in fleeting encounters.

Far from just drawing on a “toolkit” for conducting research consisting of familiar “techniques,” the researchers in this colloquium discuss how epistemological/theoretical, ethical, and methodological insights from applied linguistics and other disciplines are informing and transforming ethnographic research in our field (i.e., not only how it is conceptualized and conducted but also represented and reported) in profound, innovative, and provocative ways.

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