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Critical Applied Linguistics Working Group Mini-Conference

December 8, 2020 @ 1:20 pm - 3:15 pm

Join the members of Dr. Thompson’s Critical Applied Linguistics Working Group to hear presentations of their research.

1:20 Welcome, opening remarks

1:25-1:55 Astou Fall Gueye, “My child, don’t be shy! Be jongé”: The Shaping of Diasporic Senegalese Femininity through Discourse and Embodied Performance”

Jongé is a set of practices revolving around womanhood, femininity, and sexuality in Senegal. Previous work has focused on jongé in Senegal, but Senegalese women in the United States not only bring these practices with them from home but also continue to socialize one another into them in the diaspora. Through an analysis of in-depth interviews with twelve Senegalese migrants who reflect on their childhood experiences, I argue that children learn about jongé through both language socialization and embodied performances of the practice. The focus on diasporic narratives of the practice also demonstrates that jongé is a discursive space where gendered identities are constructed and transmitted to young girls.

Kevin Wamalwa1:55-2:25 Kevin Wamalwa, “Monumental Fear: Rumors, Victims, and the Memories of Violence in Mt. Elgon”

Years after the 2005-2008 Sabaot Land Defense Force’s conflict, a state of apprehension still hangs over Mt. Elgon in western Kenya. In contrast to official reports and media coverage which have simply highlighted violence in the region, my ethnographic work demonstrates that rumor played an important role in the conflict and continues to influence how people remember their experiences today. What is the relationship between rumors and memory? How has the intersection between rumor and memory complicated the victim-perpetrator dichotomy in Mt. Elgon over time since the conflict? Examining rumors collected during ten months of ethnographic research in Mt. Elgon, I show that although people may use rumor for political ends during wide-spread violence, rumor creates other meanings and persists beyond its initial intentions, long after the conflict is over. Contributing to the anthropological understanding of rumor and memory, I argue that in Mt. Elgon, rumor has sustained fear and anxiety that has become like a monument and a placeholder of people’s memories of the conflict and in turn produced complex expressions of victimhood.

2:25-2:55 Mwita Muniko, “From ‘Boys’ to ‘Men’: An Autoethnography of Masculinities in a Kenyan Family”Headshot of Mwita Muniko

In many African communities, male puberty initiation is a rite of passage in which adolescent boys are transitioned into adult men, taught how to be masculine, and, often, circumcised. My autoethnographic dissertation research will examine the role of puberty initiation in the social construction of masculinities through a case study of one large family in a community where such rites are still widespread and culturally significant. Existing work on masculinities in Africa has focused on whole groups as representatives of their ethnic communities, but little attention has been paid to individuals’ experience of masculinities in their day-to-day lives. How do individuals make sense of their own and others’ masculinities? I will employ a multimodal polyphonic approach, individualized narrative analysis, and autoethnographic writing to examine participants’ interpretation and experience of masculinities in various social spaces. I will use Critical Discourse Analysis to analyze my own narratives, those of other men and women collected through ethnographic interviews, and media discourse on puberty initiation to understand how masculinities are constructed, contested, and performed. My work is inspired by and engages with scholarship in gender studies, critical men’s studies, and decolonization frameworks. While I focus my attention on individuals in one East African family, my analysis will contribute to broader scholarly conversations on regional and national discourses on the relationships among politics, leadership, and gender.

2:55-3:05 Final Q&A

Please contact Toni Landis for the Zoom link: tllandis@wisc.edu


December 8, 2020
1:20 pm - 3:15 pm
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