Lately, I have begun writing my dissertation about my research project with a collective of ethnic minority young people who have grown up and studied in Hong Kong’s public schools. Through the medium of cellphone-video making (cellphilming), we have gathered, brainstormed, written, filmed, and edited some pretty amazing cellphilms (films shot on a cellphone) that describe the experiences of growing up and going to school in Hong Kong (HK) as an ethnic minority. We explore how language, literacy and civic engagement are becoming increasingly linked in Hong Kong. Through these cellphilms, and in our conversations, the participants have answered the questions: Who am I? Where do I belong? How do I participate as a citizen of HK? We have shared these cellphilms in community screenings, in university classrooms, via e-mail and Facebook, and on YouTube.
We have employed the digital realm to continue to create dialogue in order to spread the philms’ stories, particularly around the experiences of ethnic minorities in HK. Each of these space’s audiences have engaged with the philms through specific political and linguistic lenses.
With these ideas circulating about language, audience, politics, and the digital realm, I got to thinking about how these spaces, citizenship practices, languages, literacies and audiences affect one another, not just in Hong Kong, but in Quebec, in Canada, and beyond. And, how do these realities affect the work that we do—as folks who are interested in belonging, identity, language and diversity—in the spaces where we do research?
In order to extend these conversations, and encourage reflection from researchers working with issues of belonging, identity, language, literacy, diversity and civic engagement across multiple contexts, my colleagues Lyndsay Moffatt (UPEI), Diane Watt (University of Ottawa), and I have been working together to organize a conference for the Language and Literacy Researchers of Canada. The conference will take place on May 28th, 2015 in Calgary, Alberta, and explores the theme: Literacies of Civic Engagement: Negotiating Digital, Political, and Linguistic Tensions. We are looking for folks to think about these issues in the contexts of their work. In our Call for Papers (proposals due December 1st), we argue:
Language and literacy practices are now and have always been deeply political. What languages we speak, how we use literacy, and who we speak to, are issues that are intimately entwined with questions of belonging, identity, status, and citizenship. In the light of current events in Canada, and around the world, negotiating the language of belonging and citizenship are as contested as ever. Canada’s Bills C-51 and C-24, ongoing changes in the ways that we make and consume texts, and current global responses to refugees, remind us of the need to engage with such questions frequently and thoughtfully.
With the 2016 Congress theme, Energizing Communities, in mind, this year’s pre-conference seeks to engage new and established language and literacy scholars in an examination of the intersections between literacies, civic engagement, and communicating across difference, particularly in the digital realm.
This call is an invitation to researchers in the field of language and literacy to share new ideas arising within the current political climate. This year’s pre-conference calls for papers that address literacies and civic engagement in diverse areas including—but not limited to—Indigenous literacies, political and citizenship literacies, minority and heritage language and literacies, adult literacy learning, early literacies, literacy practices within immigrant and refugee communities, multilingual literacies, and literacy in Francophone minority communities.
To explore work from research, teaching, and activism, the pre-conference will provide opportunities for delegates to engage in discussions across diverse research areas, including: reading, writing, multiliteracies and multimodalities, arts-based practices, indigenous perspectives on land and literacy, children’s literature, literacy and literacies studies, communications and digital media. We invite papers working with emerging and established research methodologies.
For more information about the LLRC or to submit a proposal to the LLRC preconference, please visit: http://www.llrc-accll.ca/doku.php?id=conferences
Inquiries can also be directed to pre-conference Chairs, Casey Burkholder (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Diane Watt (email@example.com).
I hope you might consider submitting a proposal to the pre-conference
 Bill C-51 has been described by the Harper government as its anti-terror Bill, however some scholars have noted that the Bill eats away at civil liberties, and does not uphold the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. See the Bill in its entirety: http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=6932136&Col=1&File=4
 Bill C-24 has changed Canada’s Citizenship Act, which has severe consequences for dual citizens, permanent residents and the role of language in securing citizenship rights. See the Bill in its entirety: http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?doc=C-24&pub=bill