Society for Linguistic Anthropology 2019 Business Meeting

Treasurer (Constantine Nakassis)

The Society for Linguistic Anthropology’s (SLA) assets have grown steadily over the last decade. In 2019, SLA’s expanding activities (travel subventions, biennial spring meeting, etc.) have slowed growth in net assets, while keeping SLA in good health. Membership dues and the Journal of Lunguistic Anthropology continue to be SLA’s main revenue sources. This year, in addition to usual yearly expenditures for awards, travel honoraria, Annual Meeting, website, and JLA editors’ stipends, SLA helped fund a Presidential Panel on Indigenous Languages. Additional anticipated expenditures in 2020 include four new travel subventions (two for students, two for non-tenured faculty) and the 2020 SLA Spring Meeting.

Membership (Asif Agha)

The overall AAA membership dropped 12% between 2018 and 2019. The SLA had a corresponding 11% drop over this period, and has 659 active members as of September 2019.  This drop in membership is commensurate with most other AAA sections, with only four sections gaining members.

Journal of Linguistic Anthropology (Sonia Das, co-editor-in-chief)

In 2019, the journal received 120 submissions: mostly original articles, followed by special issue articles, book reviews, and book review essays. Average review time is 54.7 days, thanks to reviewers’ hard work. The journal’s impact factor recently decreased from 1.6 to 1.1 in trend with other language-focused journals, but differs from American Ethnologist and American Anthropologist, which both saw an increase in impact factor over the last year. Notably, JLA’s self-citation rate is half that of the journal’s competitors.

General fund and planning cycle (Asif Agha)

The SLA general fund is not an interest-bearing fund (AAA policies), and hence loses money against inflation. This means the SLA has to maintain a net growth over each cycle. Planning occurs based on a two-year cycle to include the spring conference. Despite decreased membership revenues, we are doing well, thanks to decreased SLA expenditures. There are discussions (but no final decision) about increasing professional membership dues from the long-standing rate of $40 to $45 (student membership will remain free). New initiatives to honor and celebrate excellent scholarship and members’ contributions, include a Presidential Session on distinguished student papers in conjunction with the Gumperz prize and a Presidential Session on distinguished books by SLA members at the Spring Meeting.

SLA and UNESCO’s International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL) (Erin Debenport)

IYIL activities at the Annual Meeting included an SLA Presidential Session (organized by Erin Debenport and Karl Swinehart) and a Roundtable and brown-bag session on issues of language revitalization and reclamation, which gauged interest in a JLA special issue. UNESCO may extend IYIL to a decade, signaling the importance of work currently underway.

SLA Spring Meeting (Kira Hall)

The meeting will take place April 2–5; posters, roundtables, and traditional papers are encouraged. An exciting group of keynote speakers was made possible, in part, thanks to the sponsorship of the University of Colorado-Boulder CLASP (Culture, Language and Social Practice) program. CLASP raised funds to lower student registration fees from $110 to $50. A 48-person committee organized the conference, with Judy Pine leading programming.

SLA Program at the 2019 Annual Meeting (Jen Roth Gordon)

There were 31 panels submitted to the SLA, including two that were invited and two that were co-sponsored with other sections. There were also 21 individual papers submitted; in the past program chairs had to cohere these into panels of their choosing. Going forward, the AAA may provide an online padlet so that individual authors can seek relevant themes and panels. Jen thanked the program committee; welcomed the new incoming program chair, Sarah Shulist. She also raised the issue of ongoing gender inequity in SLA service, with women, who comprise 60 percent of the membership, undertaking a highly disproportionate amount of service.

Committee of Language and Social Justice (LSJ) (Lynette Arnold)

LSJ now has almost 200 members. This year, there has been work around communications, including the development of an email list, an SLA teaching website, and a style guide for journalists. Issues in focus have been language policing on campus and advocacy efforts for bilingual education programs post-Proposition 58. LSJ asked members to considering following SLA on Twitter. Future projects include possible webinars.

SLA online (Liz Falconi)

Changes to the SLA website were reviewed, including the new homepage menu, a revamped teaching page, and a new SLA blog (submissions invited). Website contact decreased in 2019; Liz discussed efforts to increase traffic and invited submissions (e.g., Podcasts, comics, etc.), highlighting Ilana Gershon’s “Ask an Editor” columns.

Social media (Diego Arispe-Bazán)

SLA’s social media presence is steadily increasing, with 16,700 Twitter followers in 2019 and Facebook followers on the rise. Some of the most popular posts addressed indigenous language. Diego encouraged continued promotion and welcomed Wee Yang Soh, incoming SLA social media manager.

SLA Section News column in Anthropology News (Amelia Tseng)

SLA columns appeared almost every month of 2019, with an intentional mix of genres and perspectives and the goal of highlighting the linguistic anthropological insights into current news and affairs. Highlights included a four-part series on language policing and the initiation of columns co-written by faculty and student mentees. Amelia invited submissions, noting the 1,400-word limit and editorial support provided. All columns are archived on the SLA website. Steven Black and Thea Strand, replacing Amelia Tseng and Summerson Carr, will join Catherine Rhodes in editing the column.

Open positions

Program committee positions are available for the AAA Annual Meeting and SLA Spring Meeting. LSJ seeks a graduate student social media coordinator (contact Suzanne Garcia-Mateus) and two core members (contact Lynnette Arnold or Judy Pine). Nominations are due in January for an elected SLA Secretary/Treasurer (contact Christopher Ball, Erin Debenport, or Karl Swinehart). Nominations are due in October for the upcoming elected AAA positions (one on the AAA nominations committee, one executive committee, one on MPAAC).

2019 election results: Member-at-large: seat #1, Jenny Davis (2019–22); seat #3, Adrienne Lo (2019–22). SLA president-elect: Bernard Perley (2019–21), to be followed by a two-year term as SLA president.

2019 awards: Public Outreach and Community Service Award: Mike Mena. Undergraduate Essay Prize: Lydia Yellow Hawk. John Gumperz Prize: Britta Ingebretson. Edward Sapir Book Prize: Charles Goodwin: Co-Operative Action. (Candy Goodwin accepted the prize on Charles’ behalf; the attending membership was treated to a moving video tribute to Charles). Presidential Session in Distinguished Books in Linguistic Anthropology: Chris Ball; Rusty Barrett; Audrey Cooper; Jenny Davis; Hilary Dick; Brigittine French; Charles Goodwin; Alejandro Paz; Sarah Shulist; and Qing Zhang. The Spring Meeting will host an invited panel devoted to these distinguished books, moderated by Ilana Gershon.

Business was brought to a close as outgoing president, Asif Agha, introduced the next president, Kira Hall. Kira thanked Asif for his service, pointing out the initiation of the SLA meetings and stipend programs. She expressed her intentions to keep expanding the reach of the SLA and welcomed ideas from members. Her first performative as president: I hereby open the cash bar!

E. Summerson Carr is a contributing editor for the Society for Linguistic Anthropology’s Section News column.

Cite as: Carr, E. Summerson. 2020. “Society for Linguistic Anthropology 2019 Business Meeting.” Anthropology News website, February 12, 2020. DOI: 10.1111/AN.1343

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