#ANTH421 w/ @sarahshulist Exam!

While the exam instructions asked for 3 separate essays due to the fact that this course has been formatted in the way it has (wherein each reading overlaps in some way with the readings both before and after it) I found it difficult to keep my thought separated. With that in mind I’ve written a single essay to express my ideas, and have provided my drafting notes in lieu of citation (though in-text citations are provided using Chicago Author-Date) so that each reading and topic may be clearly associated with one another despite the formatting. In deciding to take risks with my writing in producing reflective responses to each of the questions I figured taking a risk with the formatting would also be appropriate. This semester has been a gift, and I feel so lucky that the exam was created as an overview.

None of these have introductions or conclusions because that’s really just how I roll.


How can we see metalinguistic power in this course (either in readings or in class discussions/assignments)?

(Week 3) Bourdieu, Pierre 1980. The Production and Reproduction of Legitimate Language. In Language and Symbolic Power. Chapter 1.

(Week 7) Mufwene Salikoko S. 2015. “Colonization, indigenization, and the differential evolution of English: Some ecological perspectives”. World Englishes 34(1):6-21.

(Week 10) Paja Faudree. Singing for the Dead

  • Legitimacy
  • Standardization
  • Research methods and writing practice

Within academia there are certain forms of language and communicative practices which are seen to be more legitimate than others: publishing via peer review is more legitimate than keeping a blog, speaking at an academic conference is more legitimate than speaking at an industry conference, and writing an essay is more legitimate than Tweeting (amongst so many other examples).

I’ve never been an especially great essayist. Other people seem to like my work, but it’s difficult for me to find pleasure in either the act of writing or in the act of rereading my own work (ie. I have great skills for if/when I decide to do research). The essay form is confining, and exerts structure upon thoughts and ideas which may or may not themselves be structure. While this is useful in a number of contexts, it inherently results in a loss-of-context for the materials. To that end I’ve spent a significant amount of time this semester trying to find ways in which I can transmit the absolute clusterfuck of my thoughts into something others can understand.

This has resulted in a number of Twitter essays (Twessays?), which although still not the idealized form for how I believe I can best portray my thoughts definitely come closer than a traditional essay. By allowing me to present information in this way the production of what is legitimate in the academy becomes skewed: no longer am I an undergraduate student slogging out another essay to be read by no one but myself and my professor, but I am a person speaking in public on a topic I am passionate about who also happens to be getting graded for their efforts. Mufwene uses Kachru’s circles of English to describe economic language practices, but the idea of “circles” as a method by which context-specific language may be recognized. Within the inner circle there is typical expressions of academic language such as essays, within the outer circle things such as academic poster presentations, and within the expanding circle things such as blog posts. While all of these represent academic language use, the economic legitimacy of only the inner circle is recognized.

Bourdieu explains that the above described “inner circle” is a “state language” in “The Production and Reproduction of Legitimate Language”: “[t]his state language becomes the theoretical norm against which all linguistic practices are subjectively measured” (Bourdieu 1980, 45). This subversion of standardized methods comes with specific boons (ex. reaching a wider audience, showcasing use for course knowledge outside of course confines, etc) but also some specific drawbacks. By subverting academic convention in this way the legitimacy of the research may come under question not only on behalf of the student conducting research and sharing their findings, but also on behalf of the professor who is teaching said student their research and writing skills.

While criticisms of public engagement are often easily dealt with, there does come a question of ethical practice. At what point is not sharing resources the more ethical decision? This is something which Paja Faudree struggles with regard to precarious housing due to assumed economic sharing, for example (Faudree 2013, 186-187). When it comes to physical items in the field it is well understood that physical resources such as cell phone or laptop access can be seen as preferential and should be avoided. So why then is communication of ideas different? The “open-access” is an ideology that is obviously not shared by all, and moving forward in my studies this is something I know I will have to ask myself repeatedly as someone who appreciates sharing so much of themself online. In this increasingly connected information landscape it is always important to consider the ways in which information affects others.

Describe the difference between micro & macro level enactments of power in/on language.

(Week 3) Alim, H. Samy 2011. Global Ill-literacies: Hip hop cultures, youth identities, and the politics of literacy. Review of Research in Education 35 “Youth Cultures, Language, and Literacy 120-146.

(Week 3) Chun, Elaine W. 2013 Styles of pledging allegiance: Practicing youth citizenship in the United States. Language and Communication 33:500-514.

(Week 5) Mertz, Elizabeth (2007). Law, Language and the Law School Classroom. Chapter 2 of The Language of Law School.

  • Micro/macro
  • State Power
  • Colonization

As with my previous two short essays I’m going to be drawing on some personal experiences here. While not everyone is a fan of reflexivity, I know that I’m a very reflexive person and playing to my strong suits just honestly makes sense.

Summer before last I worked as the Canadian Indigenous Language and Literacy Development Institute (CILLDI) Office Administrative Assistant. As part of this position within the University of Alberta I worked closely on a macro-level with the departments of Linguistics, Native Studies, and Early Childhood Education in addition to students on a micro-level. Full-disclosure: I loved this job, and would absolutely work in this position again given the chance. That said: as a language revitalization effort CILLDI showcases many of the problems and concerns facing language revitalization practices today.

There is a specific language involved in working with or within a university system. As part of the CILLDI process students must be registered within the University of Alberta Open Studies program before they can be registered in CILLDI classes. As CILLDI is intended for community members who wish to initiate or work within language revitalization projects not all of the students who are appropriate candidates for the Community Linguist Certificate (CLC) there are a number of CILLDI students who do not fulfill the standard expectations of what “an undergraduate student in Edmonton” means. While many students do have degrees in various areas, most CILLDI students are first-time university applicants who rarely enter large cities and as such do not have the same academic-language (ie. the language of academia; explored further within a specifically law-school example in Mertz 2007, and within a hip-hop culture example in Alim 2011) skills as someone who, for example, has parents who are academics and who has lived in a city for their entire life. This barrier to CILLDI access is a major one, as it exists on the front line of the program. While many people do and are able to do language revitalization work without academic recognition this recognition provides support elsewise inaccessible and (ideally) eases the process of language revitalization by providing people with the skills they need in order to undertake revitalization work.

There are barriers to access on the micro-level as well. If the act of being in a classroom is traumatic on a micro-level, where can we look to find the cause? Macro-level forces are too often ignored in the construction of traumatization and re-traumatization, and within language revitalization situations this leads to fewer supports available to those affected. In situations where people have experienced language-related trauma due to residential schooling, for example, the macro space of the university can exert micro-level retraumatization for students (to return to The Mindful Body this can be thought of as the body politic exerting stress upon the self). This results in student difficulties with regard to even “simply” being on-campus, but also more specifically in difficulties with executing and handing in assignments, speaking to professors, and generally reaching out for help. Are efforts to mitigate these concerns merely “performative,” as is the case with Chun in “ Styles of pledging allegiance: Practicing youth citizenship in the United States” wherein regardless of how someone states the pledge it is still regarded as valid? Are we merely repeating the same aphorisms of reconciliation in order to remain regarded as valid?

So… Identity?

(Week 2) Johnstone, Barbara 2014. ‘100% Authentic Pittsburgh’: Sociolinguistic authenticity and the linguistics of particularity. In Indexing Authenticity: Sociolinguistic Perspectives. Véronique Lacoste (ed). Berlin: DeGruyer.

(Week 4) Mehan, Hugh (1996) The Construction of an LD Student: A Case Study in the Politics of Representation. In Natural Histories of Discourse (ed. Michael Silverstein and Greg Urban). pp. 253-276.

(Week 4) Sif Karreback, Martha 2013. ‘Don’t Speak Like That to Her!’: Linguistic Minority Children’s Socialization into an Ideology of Monolingualism. Journal of Sociolinguistcs 17(3):355-375

  • Authenticity
  • Entextualization
  • Stigmatization

As someone who hits a fairly large constellation of aspects to my identity the ways in which I use language to describe my experiences can become complex. To that effect I tend to view myself (and others, honestly) as existing through multiple bodies: the self, the social body, and the body politic. This type of analysis is something which has been explored by a number of people, but for the purposes of this essay I’m basing my analysis on The Mindful Body. Using this contextual frame allows to better showcase the types of stigmatization of identity occur, and when.

Mehan denotes four specific aspects of identity I’ll be focusing on: “intelligence, deviance, health, illness” (Mehan 1996, 255). One aspect of my own identity which is easily viewable through my expression of self within the social body and body politic and which also touches on each of the aspects outlined above is my transness. What are the obvious “multiple and competing” (Mehan 1996,254) interpretations? Who decides the titles people use regarding my transness? When are these titles contextually bound? Sif Karreback explores this concept of language and spoiled language in “’Don’t Speak Like That to Her!’: Linguistic Minority Children’s Socialization into an Ideology of Monolingualism” with regard to the enforcing of language use. “Who watches the Watchmen”?

While technically everything about language and expression of self through language is highly contextual the thing about my personal expression of transness though language which tends to require the most context for understanding is the fact that as a assigned female at birth person who expresses themself as a queer non-binary person why I would choose to continue to have my family continue to call me “Auntie.” While not really confusing for most people who have had the opportunity to glimpse aspects of my self within the social body, those who exist closer to the body politic (doctors, aquaintences from volunteering, etc) tend to express the most confusion. To return to Mehan’s language my use of “Auntie” is deviant in the everyday now that I have begun to take testosterone and express myself more masculinely, and retains even further potential for deviancy if/when I become more commonly marked as male, however in considering the fact that this is a term which my nieces have grown up using and which only utter with respect to their love for me it is the most intelligent choice to allow them to continue to express their love in the way in which they feel most comfortable (there is something to be said for family members expressing “love” versus love here, but that’s beyond the scope of this essay).

The value of my identity as an authentic article is also questioned when the term “Auntie” is used while I am being read as a masculine person. This happens both within contexts of queer conversation and within contexts of non-queer conversation. To compare to Johnstone’s “’100% Authentic Pittsburgh’: Sociolinguistic authenticity and the linguistics of particularity” I am perpetually read as the non-authentic “Pittsburgh” as I deviate from the norms prescribed to queerness by both the in-group and the out-group by prescribing to both queer and cisheteronormative use of terms of endearment.



Grief is a House


[cw: death, suicide, suicidal ideation, mental illness, borderline personality disorder, ptsd]

Yesterday was the 2 year anniversary of your death bud, and while I think it would make sense for me to focus on all the ways I’ve struggled with your death specifically in the last year I’d instead like to focus on all the things that have happened with me this year that I wish you had been here for. While I definitely know that these two categories overlap significantly, the major difference here is that rather than focusing on how I’ve struggled to do some things since you’ve passed there’s so much I’m proud of that I think you would have been proud of me for.

This year has provided a plethora of twists and turns, and as of my writing this I’m still only barely in a space I’d consider “stable.” I have so much homework to do right now, but it’s so difficult for me to keep writing (something I think you can appreciate as a person who never enjoyed essays to begin with) and I’m actually hoping that writing this update for you will help me to move through this block. Being constipated is never fun, and if there’s anyone I’ve ever enjoyed talking shit with it would have had to have been you.


In January my Gramma passed away, and it was one of the most difficult things I’ve yet to deal with. It brought up a lot of the feelings of missing you again bud, especially since the 1 year anniversary of your death was only a month before. I spent a lot of time trying to make sense of death, and ended up overhauling my “Death Plans” (my will and shit) as I once again had to be faced by the concept of my own mortality. I’m not sure if this kind of planning is something you’d ever have been capable of, bud, but I definitely felt your absence in measures of pancakes and shitty McDonald’s food. Additionally I began speaking with my best friend after not having spoken to him (for very legit reasons) as well. I told him about you bud. I wish the two of you could have met one another.

February brought with it some of the most extreme stress I’ve yet to overcome with the execution of Reading Identity 2017. I know this is something you would have scoffed at, but after spending most of 2016 avoiding anyone and everyone possible I needed some kind of activity to bring myself back into some semblance of a social fold. While it worked (in a BIG way) it also reminded me how difficult it can be to trust anyone but yourself, and I spent a lot of time thinking about how much I missed your personal brand of Bright Cynicism.



I took my first Real Trip in March, and for all the wackiness it brought into my life it was overall a really great, formative experience. My major regret is trapping myself in my hotel room after encountering some very significant anxiety and being unable to check out the Gay Village. I’m always on the lookout for things to remember you by, bud, and I was hoping to find a cute gay turtle stuffy to bring home. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, but it did get me to think about how to keep the memories of the people around me in my life, and finally I decided to keep a framed photo of you and Nirv in my room. It’s not as symbolic as I usually like for a memorial, but it’s a lovely photo and I’m still so glad to have it up.

April is always a boring month when you’re in school, I think. I vaguely recall taking exams and giving a presentation in one of my English classes, but that’s about it. I had to spend a lot of time learning about borderline personality disorder, as a couple of my friends and a family member were diagnosed with it around this time as well. It’s so hard to learn about the ways in which people you love are struggling, and I found it difficult not to think of you and the ways in which you struggled. I know that what happened is in no way my fault, and that we were frankly dubiously close at best when you passed, but seeing so many people struggle with some of the same things you did was difficult. I spent a lot of time thinking about death this month, and finally let my therapist know that I experience suicidal ideation. It went far better than I ever could have anticipated, and I can only hope you’d be proud of me for speaking up.

Looking back like this I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to learn that I’d been dissociating pretty much the entire month.


In May my life began to unravel. For various reasons I was left with no savings very suddenly, and couldn’t afford to buy my prescriptions. I spent weeks in absolute agony between ER visits, and after months of incredible stress I heard the name of my abuser in an audiobook and effectively shut down.

I was depressed and didn’t leave my house for any reason other than doctor’s appointments in June, and was luckily prescribed medication to help manage my symptoms of depression.

I began having multiple panic attacks a day in July, and subsequently only left my house to go to doctor’s appointments and occasionally buy groceries. We added on more medication.

I know Animethon was never your thing, but in August I finally felt able to challenge myself to be around others and presented a panel on a subject I’m super into. It’s something I know you would have absolutely hated lol but it would have loved to have messaged you after to celebrate in excitement. My nieces and nephew came along one day, and their adorable costumes would have put a smile on your face, I’m sure, because they really put a smile on everyone’s faces.


Against the wishes of my GP and psychiatrist I decided to go back to school in September, primarily for funding reasons. With no ability to maintain a day job my student loans became my saving grace. I got the opportunity to take classes with some of my favourite professors, though, and even though you never really liked English or anthropology I think you would have enjoyed seeing our Twitter shenanigans. Because of the stress school brought into my life, though, I had to start taking even more medication to manage my symptoms in light of some intense panic attacks brought on by presenting at the Edmonton Expo.

I started seeing a trauma-informed therapist in October, and was rediagnosed with PTSD. So far it’s been one of the most impactful things I’ve had the opportunity to do with regard to my mental health this year. I wish I could talk to you about how great my therapist is, bud. You were never much one for reaching out to mental health professionals and it was a topic I was hesitant to broach due to my own mixed experiences in therapy, but having such an overarchingly great experience I think it’s something I’d be more capable of doing at this point. For all the times you made sure I was healthy, I wish I had taken more to make sure you were.


It was only in November that I really, fully began to understand the cool shit that happens when you open up to people. I credit this to the perfect storm of finding medications that (mostly) work for me, seeing a therapist weekly, having my best friend move into the house, and having had the opportunity to take badass classes with badass profs and badass peers. It seems obvious to write it out like this, but being able to connect with other people when you’re not actively experiencing crushing depression is pretty great and I’m so thankful for this opportunity. I’m finally sharing manatees again.

We’re only barely into December, but I already wish we could talk about Christmas stuff bud. We never had the opportunity to celebrate Yule together, and that’s something that hurts me a heck of a whole lot. This is a time of year where I really want to be around my family and friends, and your absence is so obvious right now.


I wish I had more to write for you bud. I miss you so fuckin much so fuckin always.

I hope you’re at peace.

Thinking about suicide? For immediate help:
Call 1-833-456-4566
Chat: http://www.crisisservicescanada.ca/en/
Texting: 45645

For more information and resources:

An open letter to my family and friends

Those who follow me on Twitter know that I made the decision to come out to my extended family yesterday via email. I cannot express enough appreciation for those who supported me on Twitter with pet pictures and words of support, just as I cannot express enough appreciation for my family in taking this news with love and grace. I’ve attached the (anonymized) letter I sent out yesterday below, and plan to share this blog post on Facebook to allow my family and friends there have the opportunity to read it.

“Coming out” is inherently a perpetually incomplete process, but I hope by sharing this more people in my life will be able to understand (or at least begin to understand) both more of my life narrative and me as a person.

Disclaimer: If you want to use any/all of this letter to come out to your own family please go right ahead! You don’t even have to link back. I request that this blog post be linked to in any other situation, though. Thanks!

To my loving family,
I’m writing this to explain something super important, because I love and appreciate our relationships and the love and support you’ve given to me throughout my life. I’m transgender, specifically non-binary. I hope you’ll take the time to research some of what this means to others, but for me it means that I’m neither a man nor a woman and instead exist “outside the binary.”
What being non-binary means in practice, for me, includes my pronouns being they/them (“Did B go to school today?” “Yes /they/ did.” etc), and due to my experiences with gender dysphoria taking gender-affirming hormone therapy (testosterone) as of May in addition to having a hysterectomy performed in the near future. What does this mean? Well the testosterone does a number of things including lowering my voice, and increasing hair growth (I’m lazy and kind of growing a beard). I hope you will also take the time to research what else testosterone is giving to me should you be curious, as those are only two by-products in a list of many. As well, I’m mostly comfortable being termed with feminine kinship terms because I know they come from a place of love. This means words like “niece” (“my niece”) and “Auntie” (“the kids’ Auntie”) are comfortable for me to hear. That said [my immediate family] have begun using words like “child” (“[x] and [x]’s child”) and “sibling” (“[x]’s sibling”) which are also great to hear.
I cannot stress enough that this is something I’ve known about myself since childhood, but only found the language for as a teenager and only found medical and social support for in the last couple of years. I don’t believe anyone is the same person they were one day to the next, because luckily we’re all learning more about ourselves and the people around us everyday. That said I am still the tiny human you held as a baby, gave Christmas presents to, and have loved and supported for the past 25-odd (or “25 odd” let’s be honest) years.
Because this is new information for you I understand that you may not use my pronouns or related terms correctly right away. That said it will and does mean a lot to me if and when you do because it demonstrates your respect for me and who I am.
Like I’ve mentioned previously I hope you take a little while to do some research of your own into any parts of this letter you may find confusing. That said, I am and will be available to answer any questions you may have. I hope that rather than being a cause for your concern this instead adds strength to our relationships. This has been a… surprisingly easy letter for me to write, in no small part due to the fact that I’m honestly filled with happiness to be able to live as my authentic self. While I understand it may not have been as easy to read, I hope you feel equally as happy to receive it.
Much love,

6/6: discourse

“Discourse and the History of Sexuality” – Will Stockton

I wrote this chapter in 2009, and since then have come to dislike it. This chapter is dated, overly quotational, and altogether inadequate in its reading of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 20. For many years, I believed Clinical Encounters in Sexuality to be defunct, and in truth, I would prefer this piece remain stuck in a desk drawer. I agree to its publication now, in relatively unrevised form, only because I realize that the volume as a whole depends on it, and may indeed depend (although I am not sure, as I have not read the responses) on the way I originally expressed ideas. (footnote, 171)

Works Cited

Giffney, Noreen , and Eve Watson, eds. Clinical Encounters in Sexuality: Psychoanalytic Practice and Queer Theory. Earth: Punctum , 2017. e-Book.

Want more of these ridiculous playlists?

0/6: falling short //

1/6: identity // 2/6: desire // 3/6: pleasure //

4/6: perversion // 5/6: ethics // 6/6: discourse //


5/6: ethics

“Out of Line, On Hold: D.W. Winnicott’s Queer Sensibilities” – Michael Snediker

A person’s realness […] isn’t what justifies or necessitates one’s care for them. (146)

Works Cited

Giffney, Noreen , and Eve Watson, eds. Clinical Encounters in Sexuality: Psychoanalytic Practice and Queer Theory. Earth: Punctum , 2017. e-Book.

Want more of these ridiculous playlists?

0/6: falling short //

1/6: identity // 2/6: desire // 3/6: pleasure //

4/6: perversion // 5/6: ethics // 6/6: discourse //