Wesley Leonard’s contribution to the “Sociolinguistics Frontiers” series argues that sociolinguistic approaches to Native American languages are best conducted as…
In this second undergraduate essay for our “Democratic Erosion” miniseries, Rachel Funk interrogates the susceptibility of referenda to abuse by government leaders. Using the examples of recent constitutional referenda in Rwanda and Burundi to extend presidential term limits, she explains how, in atmospheres with a history of violence and nominally democratic regimes that stifle political opposition, referenda can be manipulated to prolong the tenure of a leader under the guises of popular will and consent. Funk concludes by highlighting examples where referenda and other forms of direct democracy can play a more constructive role when combined with institutional checks.
In 1989 the Social Science Research Council sponsored two panels at the annual meeting of the African Studies Association comparing the political systems and political cultures of African and Caribbean nations, most of them former British colonies. In this brief 1990 report, Tom Lodge summarizes the key points raised during these panels, including the role the politics of patronage play in democracies and how the homogeneity of some Caribbean nations and their history of colonial representative government bolster democracy compared to African nations. However, Lodge also highlights other key issues raised by other scholars, including the importance of slavery in shaping a culture of resistance as well as being aware of the contradictions and limits of pan-African discourse by governments.
We kick off the 2019 round of our “Democratic Erosion” student essay miniseries—part of the Democracy Papers—with Jenny Xiao’s account of how this year’s elections in Slovakia bucked the trend toward right-wing populism in Eastern Europe. Xiao analyzes the successful campaign strategy of the progressive Zuzana Caputova, Slovakia’s first woman president. For Xiao, Caputova’s victory reflects her ability to build on public discontent and protest directed at the previous regime, a positive and inclusive message, and a direct engagement with populist candidates in ways that did not legitimize them or their use of disinformation.
Writing for our “Sexuality & Gender Studies Now” series, Dawne Moon analyzes the evolution of views of the LGBTQ+ community among Protestant evangelicals and how LGBTQ+ Christians have started creating a space for themselves within the church. Through her Sexuality Research Fellowship Program (SRFP) funding, she first started researching evangelicals’ views on the LGBTQ+ community in the late 1990s, leading to her current work on understanding “sacramental shame” among LGBTQ+ Christians. She concludes with a reflection on how the SRFP impacted her own career.
Media researcher and publisher Jeff Pooley responds to the European open access initiative, Plan S, outlining the history of the current system of author-paid article processing charges (APCs) and the ways this system perpetuates inequality across the publishing landscape. He proposes an alternative system wherein university libraries shoulder the publishing costs, and describes an economic framework that could make such a solution sustainable for authors, libraries, publishers, and scholarly societies.
In her contribution to the “Sociolinguistic Frontiers” series, Adrienne Lo reflects on how scholars of language use have engaged with issues of race and racialization in the United States since the 1970s. She traces how scholars’ emphases have shifted between a focus on the “real” and authentic productions of language varieties by racialized groups and the ways political, economic and cultural forces shape how that language use is represented and (de)legitimized. Lo concludes with a discussion of the stakes of sociolinguistic study of race given the contestations around “race” as a concept, and argues that research in this space should seek to engage broader publics.
As sociolinguistics continued to develop in the 1970s, members of the Council’s Committee on Sociolinguistics (1963–1979) reflected on the direction and intellectual impact of this emergent discipline. In this 1972 article, Dell Hymes, cochairman of the committee, describes several orientations toward the field among its practitioners, and argues for what he regarded as the most ambitious: a “socially constituted linguistics.” By this, Hymes meant a sociolinguistics that challenges linguistics’ core theoretical starting points of linguistic structure and grammar with a focus on the social meaning and functions of language in context. In relation to our “Sociolinguistic Frontiers” series, Hymes presciently argues that ultimately the field must address how inequality and language intersect, going “beyond means of speech and types of speech community to a concern with persons and social structure.”
In this essay for our “Chancing the Storm” series, Susan Joslyn discusses how research in cognitive psychology can uncover the thought processes behind the use and misuse of weather information. Myriad experts and practitioners of various disciplines are involved in the production of every forecast, but Joslyn outlines how the mental models each individual uses to interpret information can cause confusion, even among experts. Drawing on her research at her Decision Making with Uncertainty Lab at the University of Washington, Joslyn shows how simple phrasing choices can cause decision errors. By accounting for the thought processes behind the interpretation of information, can we improve the practice of information sharing and decision-making in uncertain weather conditions?
Writing for the “Sexuality & Gender Studies Now” series, Catherine Fosl reflects on her current work on the queer public history of Kentucky. She traces how she uncovered the state’s LGBTQ history, in particular that of Louisville, and how the Sexuality Research Fellowship Program (SRFP), which sponsored research on the oral history of a local LGBTQ organization, led her down this path. Through her work as a public historian, Fosl has shined light on an aspect of this community’s history, culminating in the state’s first LGBTQ historic context statement, coauthored with the Fairness Campaign.