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The posthumanist disciplinary anarchive
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Despite attempts by many to establish applied linguistics as a discipline – handbooks, histories, introductions, symposia have all made such claims (and this incessant concern gives one grounds to be suspicious about why so much noise is made on the topic) – there is a reasonable case to be made that is has never really been one. Linguists have long chuckled at the constant struggles in applied linguistics to work out what it is, a concern they so rarely have (bringing both benefits of assurity and problems of fixity). It is time to acknowledge that applied linguistics has never been a discipline and is all the better for that: It is a shifting constellation of interests around language and its contexts of use. To talk, then, of transdisciplinarity in applied linguistics is simply to describe things as they have always been. In this paper I will review the many directions I have been exploring as part of an endeavour to come to grips with posthumanist thought – from distributed cognition to speculative realism, from religion to animal rights, from actor network theory to object oriented ontologies, from sensory landscapes to enhanced humans – with the aim to rethink what is at stake in concerns about language in action. These broad searches across cognition, philosophy, geography, theology, biology, sociology and anthropology are made possible precisely because applied linguistics has never convincingly become a discipline. It also became clear as I reviewed this work that prior research in the field – from nexus analysis to language ecologies, language practices to communicative action – had also made related connections. Drawing on the new sociolinguistics, it may be more suitable to talk of transdisciplining, and to think in terms of repertoires of (trans)disciplinary resources that we draw on in order to make certain ways of thinking possible.
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