Rights, Rules and Rhetoric: Exploring Language for and about Migrants in Australia, Europe and North America

The Language, Culture and Justice Hub of Brandeis University invites you to participate in an asynchronous and written online “learning exchange” exploring diverse language challenges facing migrants as they navigate legal and other critical contexts, work in academic/professional settings, and respond to rhetoric that (mis)(re)presents them. 

The event will take place around the clock on 17 and 18 November (starting 16 November in North America).

Participation is simple: over the course of the exchange, attendees log on at their convenience to the learning exchange platform to review comments and contribute their own thoughts to the developing group conversation. A minimum of two hours of participation is expected, and there are no registration fees. 

Entitled Rights, Rules and Rhetoric, this virtual exchange seeks to examine and compare diverse language-related facets of the migration experience across Australia, Europe and North America. These facets can be grouped along three axes:

1) the rights enacted through laws or directives ensuring procedural fairness for migrants, including their ability to access critical information in their languages through translated documents or interpretation;

2) the everyday rules, written and unwritten, of language provision and practice in situations involving migrants which may fall short of formally guaranteed rights and reflect various “language ideologies,” that is, common if sometimes misguided understandings of how language works; and

3) the problematic or demonizing rhetoric about migrants and their communities of origin, and the obstacles such rhetoric may create for people on the move.

The exchange will also examine the impact of the current pandemic both on the availability and adequacy of language services, and on public narratives about migrants from regions that have been described, often inaccurately, as sources of the coronavirus.

Rights, Rules and Rhetoric seeks participation by a broad range of actors: migrants, international students, asylum seekers/refugees, scholars, researchers, activists, and practitioners and policymakers from diverse fields. The working language of the exchange will be English, but contributions can also be offered and read in Spanish, French, and Arabic with the help of computer-generated translation.

Visit the event webpage to download the preliminary program and read more about the aims of the learning exchange, organizers and partner institutions, and how it will all work.

Register for the Rights, Rules and Rhetoric learning exchange until 9 November 2020.

Direct any questions to learning exchange coordinator Hillary Mellinger: hmellinger@brandeis.edu.

We hope you will contribute your perspectives and experiences during this important event exploring language and migration. Please forward on this call for participation to others who might be interested and share the Facebook event with your networks.

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