Literacy, Culture and Language Education conference addresses racial justice

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While the Second International Conference of Literacy, Culture, and Language Education (ICLCLE) had to be moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it remained a necessary and inviting space that centered issues of race and identity situated in language and literacy research.

As a fourth year Ph.D. student in Literacy, Culture, and Language Education, the conference, virtually held on October 24, had a focus on social justice that was evident in every presentation I attended, fostering an organic dynamic of reflexivity among attendees and presenters alike. I was struck by the diversity of topics—from multiliteracies in a STEM class to linguistic landscapes in Japan to missing voices among Indigenous students in Colombia—and how issues of power tethered them to a greater purpose of fostering equity through education.

As an attendee and presenter, I appreciated the consideration toward the pacing of the conference. Most sessions were organized into 30-minute segments. This afforded participants the ability to attend a variety of sessions. Conference organizers provided ways for attendees to connect in a virtual setting: in addition to creating a hashtag, they created a Slack channel with space to ask questions and network. LCLE faculty were in every session I attended, asking meaningful questions and pushing the criticality of the topics. The flash presentations offered a new perspective for presenting salient research in accessible, creative ways. My research explores the intersectionalities of rural Hispanic and White youth as activists, and I appreciated the ongoing dialogue on language, heritage and identity throughout the sessions, especially the conversation in the closing session. I left challenged to look more closely at the implications and intersectionalities of naming and renaming regarding race, heritage and language.

Overall, ICLCLE-2020 pushed the boundaries of academic discourse, further cementing the theme of social justice by increasing accessibility to remarkably rich research and by encouraging the exchanging of ideas while centering race and equity. I took notes throughout the day and now have a list of ideas to visit, scholars to read and questions to research.

According to Beth Lewis Samuelson and Serafín M. Coronel-Molina, Co-chairs of the Organizing Committee, ICLCLE-2020 brought together researchers, educators, scholars, instructors, practitioners, activists and graduate students from countries such as Morocco, China, South Korea, Africa, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Italy, Japan, Canada, France and from different parts in the United States. A total of 95 presenters and 152 attendees made a conference of this magnitude a breeding ground for the School of Education faculty and students to get involved in a local and global dialogue and exchange of ideas, research and practice with scholars from across the globe and from a wide range of perspectives. This event also invigorates the national and international mission of the School of Education at IU.

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