AN News: “Report on the 2014 SLA Business Meeting” by Aaron Ansell (Virginia Tech)

The annual business meeting of the SLA in Washington DC was attended by about 150 people, and proved to be a lively and informative event. President Paul Kroskrity reported on two areas of general concern: increasing public engagement around issues of linguistic racism and the mentoring of junior colleagues within SLA itself. Paul reported on the results of a mentorship survey, which indicate willingness among members to serve as mentors. However, because the survey does not provide a good basis for moving forward, we are waiting for AAA-wide initiatives that will provide both models and resources for future planning. Finally, Paul noted SLA’s increasing collaborations with kindred associations (LSA, AAAL, etc.).

The main topic of discussion was the uncertainty concerning the publishing agreement with Wiley-Blackwell (currently set to expire after 2017, unless renewed) and its implications for the SLA. One possible scenario for the Journal of Linguistic Anthropology (JLA) is that its editorial staff will assume added responsibilities associated with self-publishing. Another possibility is that SLA will elect to submit a revised five-year plan to the Publishing Oversight Working Group, so that the AAA can present the most complete portfolio to potential publishers. Given that the SLA has enjoyed considerable revenue from subscriptions to the JLA under the Wiley-Blackwell arrangement, the change might pose challenges to the Society’s financial health.

Secretary-Treasurer Jonathan Rosa reported that SLA’s membership and finances are doing well at present. Net assets are currently at $189,457 and are projected to rise to $202,804 by 2016. Our main revenue sources were membership dues (approx. $25,000) and JLA subscriptions (approx. $10,000). SLA currently has 548 active members, and while 2014 saw a 14% decrease in membership rolls this last year, this was just the result of an AAA-wide updating of the rolls; most sections saw similar reductions. Membership remains strong, though additional recruitment will be important moving forward.

Alexandra (Misty) Jaffe (Editor-in-Chief) and Paul Garrett (Associate Editor) reported that the JLA is also doing well. They recently submitted a 5-year plan to AAA pertaining to the Journal’s quality, accessibility, breadth and sustainability. This plan will be revised in response to the Publishing Oversight Working Group responses. JLA‘s quality metrics remain strong. It has a 25% acceptance rate, a 51% rejection rate and the second highest impact factor among linguistics journals in 2013. JLA is ranked 22/81 in the ISI (Institute for Scientific Information) rankings among anthropology journals; 31/169 among Linguistics journals and 53/594 among language and linguistics journals ranked by the SJR (Scientific Journal Rankings). Regarding JLA‘s accessibility, the journal has one free issue per year and Misty and Paul plan on compiling time-limited virtual free issues to enhance the journal’s discoverability and affordability. To increase JLA‘s breadth, the editors are growing its digital content, soliciting more international submissions, contributing previously published articles to Open Anthropology, exploring article translation into other languages, and increasing the number of special issues and topical fora. Regarding JLA’s sustainability, costs associated with the editors’ course buy-outs (currently about $10,000) may need to be reduced. While wealthier universities can underwrite course releases for faculty editors, most schools cannot afford to do so. To avoid limiting editorial staff to scholars from wealthy schools, SLA may negotiate cost-sharing arrangements with editors’ host institutions.

This year’s SLA Section Program Committee consisted of Judy Pine (Chair), Joyce Bennet, Steven Black, Laura Brown, Jennifer Dickinson, Colleen Cotter, Elizabeth Falconi, Jenina Fennigson, Sarah Hillewaert, Timothy Knowlton, Barbra LeMaster, and Jennifer Schlegel. This committee received 39 volunteer panels and formed six more panels from the 42 individually volunteered papers. AAA’s general Program Committee accepted 43 SLA panels, including six invited sessions.

Netta Avineri of the Language and Social Justice Task Force reported that SLA members’ ethical concerns about the term “language gap” and racist mascots made their way into popular media outlets (e.g. Huffington Post) as well as AAA fora (Anthropology News, AAA Public Statement, and JLA Forum). Netta also noted a 2016 ballot initiative in California that, if passed, would repeal Prop. 227 “English in Public Education” and allow non-English languages to be used in public instruction.

Aaron Ansell, Co-editor of SLA Section News for Anthropology News (AN), thanked the 13 contributors to the column last year. He noted that, as a result of difficulties in accessing archived Section News columns through the AN website and Anthrosource database, SLA columns for AN will now appear and be archived on the SLA website.

Dave Paulson, Digital Content Manager, discussed the increasing social media profile of the SLA webpage which averages 165 views per day and now has 7,200 followers on Twitter (up from 4,900 in 2013). Dave mentioned that he was undertaking to archive all of the SLA columns from AN‘s back issues.

The inaugural winner of the new SLA Award for Public Outreach and Community Service was Mary Bucholtz (UCSB), Creator and Director of the School Kids Investigating Language and Society (SKILLS) Program. The Edward Sapir Book Prize was shared by Francis Cody for The Light of Knowledge and Nicholas Harkness for Songs of Seoul. The Graduate Student Paper Prize went to Magnus Pharao Hansen (Brown U) for “The Difference Language Makes: The Life-History of Nahuatl in Two Mexican Families,” and honorable mention went to Perry Sherouse (U Michigan), Katherine B. Martineau (U Michigan), Matthew L. Hale (Indiana U) and Lori Labotka (U Arizona). Joshua Babcock (U Chicago) won the Undergraduate Student Paper Prize for “A Semiotics of Gender Noncomformity: Metasemiosis, Intertextuality, and Indexical Clasps,” with honorable mention to Patrick Wu (U Chicago) and Michael Elster (Wayne State U). SLA thanks all of the members of the prize selection committees: Shalini Shankar, Dick Bauman and Paul Manning (graduate paper prize), Christopher Ball, Hillary Dick, Christopher Engelke, and Jim Wilce (undergraduate paper prize), Judy Irvine, Paul Manning, and Keith Murphy (Sapir Book Prize), Paul Kroskrity, H. Samy Alim, Misty Jaffe, Ariana Mangual Figueroa, Teresa McCarty, and Ana Celia Zentella (Public Outreach and Community Service).

SLA expresses its gratitude to those officers stepping down from their positions: Jonathan Rosa (Secretary-Treasurer), Paja Faudree (Nominations Committee Chair), and Susanne Unger (Co-editor for Section News/Anthropology News). We welcome the incoming officers: Kristina Wirtz (Secretary-Treasurer), Becky Schulthies (Nominations Committee Chair), Jennifer Jackson (Member-at large) and Anna Babel (Co-editor of SLA Section News, Anthropology News).

Finally, special congratulations go to Michael Silverstein, winner of the AAA’s Franz Boas Award for Exemplary Service to Anthropology.

Please send your comments, contributions, news and announcements to SLA Contributing Editors Aaron Ansell (aansell@vt.edu) or Anna Babel ( babel.6@osu.edu).

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