Canada's official policy of "multiculturalism within a bilingual framework" (Haque, 2012) has been part of national discourse since the early 1970s, influencing a generation of researchers in educational linguistics. Yet our much-vaunted policies serve to obscure the fact that in reality Canadian educational systems overwhelmingly privilege those from English- and French-speaking backgrounds. As a researcher from a biracial, ethnolinguistically mixed urban Canadian background, I determined early on to work toward pedagogical policies and practices that would enable more children to grow up learning their parents' or grandparents’ languages — something I did not have the opportunity to do myself. Nearly 30 years after starting graduate work in Toronto, I have worked with: children and adults in Montreal's Bangladeshi community; the multilingual Hip-Hop youth community in Montreal; Mi'gmaq educators working to revitalize their language at Listuguj First Nation, Quebec; and emerging scholars at several Montreal-area universities engaged in creating a local community for critical sociolinguistics research. Along the way I have moved from a conventional, researcher-driven approach to inquiry to a more community-oriented, participatory action research framework when working with marginalized speakers. Through an overview of four different projects conducted over 20 years, I hope to demonstrate that eschewing an externally imposed research agenda, and instead, “waiting for the data,” can be a productive and potentially game-changing way of helping communities work toward greater language empowerment through languaging plurilingually, be they "minority" or "majority".
Speaker Series: The Department of Education and the Plurilingual lab present Dr. Mela Sarkar
March 26, 2019, 5 p.m. – 5:50 p.m.
NON-INTERVENTIONISM AS RESEARCH IN CRITICAL APPLIED SOCIOLINGUISTICS: LEARNING TO LISTEN WHEN COMMUNITIES TALK
Mela Sarkar was born in Calcutta (now Kolkata), India, to a Ukrainian-Canadian mother and a Bangladeshi Brahmin father who had met as grad students at the University of Manitoba. They settled in Toronto, Canada, where she grew up. Issues of heritage versus dominant languages, plurilingualism / pluriculturalism, and hybrid identities were therefore woven into the fabric of everyday normal for her. Since taking her current position at McGill University in 2001, she has branched out from mainstream second language acquisition research into critical sociolinguistics inquiry, with a focus on empowering minority-language speakers through diversification of their communicative repertoires.
Room FG 5.315, Faubourg Ste-Catherine Building (1610 St. Catherine W.), Sir George Williams Campus
Dr. Mela Sarkar
Workshops & seminars, Conferences & lectures