Research seminar with Suresh Canagarajah: Theorizing a Language Competence for Negotiating Superdiversity, London

This looks like an extremely interesting seminar from Suresh Canagarajah being held in London at the UCL Centre for Applied Linguistics on July 1st. Please see below for more details: 

Theorizing a Language Competence for Negotiating Superdiversity
Suresh Canagarajah
Pennsylvania State University
17:00-18:00 Wednesday 1st July 2015
Room 642, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL
Abstract: Mary Louise Pratt (1987) initiated an important line of inquiry when she called for a shift from “a linguistics of community” to a “linguistics of contact.” We are finding this reorientation gaining urgency as we grapple with communication in conditions of late modern globalization, featuring migration, diaspora relationships, superdiverse urban settlements, digital media scapes, and transnational economic and production relationships. We realize now that Pratt’s (1991) notion of the “contact zone” is not a secondary space between the more primary “community.” All communities are contact zones that involve interactions between diverse languages and cultures. From this perspective, attempts to territorialize and circumscribe communities and languages in dominant theories of language competence appear misleading. As we break away from the notion of bounded communities and attend to communication in the liminal spaces of contact, we face new questions confronting language competence.
In this talk, I consider how we can retheorize competence for negotiating superdiversity. I base my theorization on the narratives of 65 migrant professionals in English-dominant countries (i.e., USA, UK, Australia, and South Africa) interviewed in ongoing migration research. Our subjects treat competence in terms of practices to be adopted to negotiate difference, and don’t treat gramar as primary. They treat successful communication as deriving from the ability to collaborate with interlocutors by drawing from diverse ecological resources in layered sociotemporal contexts for the situated co-construction of indexicality. They state that they have developed this competence from their socialization in their native multilingual communities and the ongoing development of suitable dispositions in global context zones. I demonstrate how their orientation to competence differs from the traditional cognitive-lingual paradigm and the emergent social approaches.
Suresh Canagarajah is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor in Applied Linguistics, English, and Asian Studies, and Director of the Migration Studies Project at Penn State University, USA, and a past President of the American Association of Applied Linguistics. His publications include Translingual practice: Global Englishes and cosmopolitan relations; Literacy as translingual practice: Between communities and classrooms; Christian and critical English language educators in dialogueReclaiming the local in language policy and practiceCritical academic writing and multilingual students; A geopolitics of academic writing; and Resisting linguistic imperialism in English teaching.