We are delighted to have THREE plenary speakers this year!: Mie Hiramoto, National University of Singapore;Margot Weiss, Wesleyan University and Lal Zimman, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Please check out their fantastic work below!

Mie Hiramoto, National University of Singapore

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Title of talk: Mediation and mediatization of Asian masculinity in Chinese wuxia films (tentative)

Speaker bio: Mie Hiramoto is associate professor at the Department of English Language and Literature, National University of Singapore. Her research interests include language, gender, and sexuality issues, with special interest in media based data. She also works on language contact and linguistic change, with particular interest in Japanese spoken outside Japan, Hawai‘i Creole, and Singapore English.

Margot Weiss, Wesleyan University

portrait.jpg Title of talk: Queer Otherwise: Making Knowledge at the Boundaries of Academia and Activism

This talk is drawn from my current book project, Queer Otherwise. Based on several years of ethnographic fieldwork with queer left activists in New York City, Chicago, and Montreal, Queer Otherwise explores the possibilities and parameters of a radical political imagination in a time of pessimistic and detached pragmatic politics and grinding, ongoing economic precarity. Rather than asking, “what do activists want?” or attending to the more spectacular moments of street action, I aim to think with activists, to chart the intellectual labor of activism—the work of ideation, imagining, and visualizing. In this way, the book is simultaneously an ethnography of contemporary queer left organizing and a text that enacts its central claim that activist intellectual labor is tied to and helpfully thought alongside academic theorizing, given the linked crises of what some have called the “non-profit industrial complex” and the neoliberal university. In this keynote, I focus on how the concept “queer” indexes a desire for social and political change, even as its content shifts and is reworked, appropriated, fought over, and refused in both academic and activist networks. Still, as Amber Hollibaugh, a longtime queer activist and former executive director of Queers for Economic Justice, put it, “In some ways, the challenge of staying political is to stay a dreamer at the same time. Everyone’s told always about politics, you have to be practical, but I actually think that’s not true, you actually have to hold to a dream … and desire is part of that dream.” In this talk, I attend to some of the alternative or queer ways of knowing that the activists with whom I worked use to envision an otherwise: crafting, remapping, and visioning. These queer methods aim to connect our political desires with our sexual ones, and posit that link as a way to animate what Jose Munoz (2009) calls the “queer horizon –a desire for something not yet, something yet to come (see also Rodríguez 2014, Povinelli 2011).

Speaker bio: Margot Weiss is Chair of Anthropology and Associate Professor of Anthropology and American Studies at Wesleyan University. She is the current Co-Chair of the Association for Queer Anthropology. Her research focuses on the sexual politics of late capitalism, primarily in the US. She is the author of Techniques of Pleasure: BDSM and the Circuits of Sexuality (Duke UP, 2011), which won the Ruth Benedict Prize in queer anthropology, and was a Lambda Literary Foundation Finalist in LGBT Studies. Weiss’s essays on queer activism, queer politics and neoliberalism, LGBT/queer economic precarity, the politics of academic and activist knowledge, sexuality and American imperialism, and methodology in queer anthropology have appeared American Quarterly, GLQ, Journal of Homosexuality, Anthropologica, Cultural Anthropology, and Radical History Review. She is currently working on her second book, Queer Otherwise.

Lal Zimman, University of California, Santa Barbara


Title of talk: (Trans)Gender(ed) pasts, presents, and futures: Three decades of research on language and trans experience

This talk provides a broad view of the place of transgender and other non-normatively gendered individuals in the study of language, gender, and sexuality. It traces development across three decades of research in communities that have been variably described as transsexual, transgender, third gender, or otherwise gender non-normative. Drawing on the body of work on the linguistic practices of these speakers, I highlight the kinds of insights they offer scholars of language and gender at the levels of phonetics, grammar, and discourse. I also discuss the implications of bringing trans people into each of these subfields, particularly where quantitative modeling is the norm. In addition to synthesizing work that explicitly deals with trans speakers, I also discuss the implicit role trans people have played in the field of language, gender, and sexuality, including work that on the surface seems only to deal with cisgender speakers. Following Hall’s (2003) account of “exceptional” cases in the history of language and gender research, I argue that trans people have and continue to serve – often invisibly – to define the cisgender norm. Finally, I talk about the importance of bringing sociocultural linguistics to bear on the ways language figures in the oppression, marginalization, and empowerment of trans people. Here I identify some avenues of connection between trans activism and linguistic research and stress the importance of collaborations that could further expand those opportunities. These connections also serve as a stepping stone for bringing trans scholars into a central position in our disciplines. With our fields’ rapid growth in interest in trans people’s language, it is particularly important that we formulate more explicit theories and ethical standards when it comes to the research on / for / with / by trans communities.

Speaker bio: Lal Zimman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Affiliated Faculty in the Department of Feminist Studies at UC Santa Barbara. Zimman is General Editor of Oxford University Press’s Studies in Language, Gender, and Sexuality Series. Zimman received his PhD in Linguistics at the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2012, where he was affiliated with the programs in Culture, Language and Social Practice (CLASP) and Women’s and Gender Studies.