Our Multilingual Writing Reality: Complicating Immigration, Racialization, and “Academic Writing”

SLA Lecture Series: Critical Approaches to Applied Language Studies


4:00 pm Central time, Wednesday, March 10, 2021 

Lecture recording HERE

Abstract: As the rise of writing has gained momentum beyond college contexts (Brandt, 2015), one of the main premises of writing education has focused on what writing can do for and with writers deemed as multilingual (Alvarez 2018, Gonzales, 2018). And such momentum has given way to contested disciplinary debates about what multilingual students “need” and “how” from the teaching of writing, specifically as pertained to academic and “real world” sites (Canagarajah, 2015; Matsuda, 2020). But little attention has been dedicated to the origins of academic writing as a historically racializing educational practice that ignores the dynamic and complex lived experiences of multilingual writers (Kynard, 2013; Lee & Alvarez, 2020). More so, studies looking at language and racialization have often overlooked the complexities of embodied language practices in the context of contemporary immigration to the U.S. Drawing from a larger three-year ethnography study of the multilingual writing practices of twelve undocumented young adults, this talk focuses on how multilingual writers contest systems of oppression that privilege particular languages and racial and ethnic groups in the discourse of nation and belonging.

About the speaker: Sara P. Alvarez is Assistant Professor of English at Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY). Her qualitative research focuses on the multilingual and academic writing practices of self-outed U.S. undocumented young adults. Sara is also Associate Investigator with CUNY’s, first of its kind, Initiative on Immigration and Education (CUNY-IIE), learning with and from the K-12 lived experiences of immigrant-generation students and their communities in the state of New York. Sara’s past research ethnographically examined the multilingual social media literacy practices among second-generation Latinx youth and their transnational families in Kentucky. Her publications have appeared in the journals Equity and Excellence in Education, World Englishes, Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, among others.

Delivery format: The talk was held on Zoom.

Sponsor: This lecture is part of the Second Language Acquisition Talk Series and is co-sponsored by the Language Institute. Funding is from the Anonymous Fund.

Contact: Jana Martin, Associate Director, Language Institute

The UW-Madison Language Institute is committed to inclusive and accessible programming. To request an accommodation for this event, please contact Jana Martin three business days in advance.