Plenary Speakers

The Sociolinguistics Symposium 25 conference is pleased to showcase our keynote speakers and their research.

Download the Plenary speaker abstracts here.

Ana Deumert

University of Cape Town

‘A spell that rouses the spirit/ that lives in bone and stone’ – Sociolinguistics as philosophy and insurgency

Ana Deumert is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Cape Town. Her research program is located within the broad field of sociolinguistics and has a strong transdisciplinary focus.

She has published in a wide range of fields: historical sociolinguistics, language policy and planning, mobile communication, language contact, critical sociolinguistics as well as decolonial theory. Her most recent book is titled From Southern Theory to Decolonizing Sociolinguistics – Voices, Questions and Alternatives, and has been co-edited with Sinfree Makoni.

Other publications include Sociolinguistics and Mobile Communication (2014), The Sociolinguistics of Everyday Creativity (with Joan Swann, 2018, special issue of Language Sciences), and Colonial and Decolonial Linguistics - Knowledges and Epistemes (2020, with Anne Storch and Nick Shepherd). She is co-editor of Edinburgh SociolinguisticsCambridge Approaches to Language Contact and Encounters (Multilingual Matters, Bristol).

Ana is a recipient of the Neville Alexander Award for the Promotion of Multilingualism (2014) and the Humboldt Research Award (2016). She is currently an Honorary Research Fellow at University of the West Indies (2022-2024) and was a Professor II at Inland University of Applied Sciences, Norway (2020-2023).

Annelies Kusters

Heriot-Watt University

Ideologies of Modality

Annelies Kusters is a Professor in Sign Language and Intercultural Research at Heriot-Watt University, where she works since 2017. She leads a deaf research group undertaking the project ‘Deaf mobilities across international borders: visualising intersectionality and translanguaging” ( (2017-2023), funded by the European Research Council.

Annelies has a BA in Philosophy (University of Leuven, 2003), a MA in Social and Cultural Anthropology (University of Leuven 2006), a MSc in Deaf Studies (University of Bristol, 2008), and a PhD in Deaf Studies (University of Bristol, 2012).

Since 2004, Annelies has engaged in ethnographic research in Surinam, Ghana, India, the UK and at several international deaf events and workplaces. Her expertise is the study of deaf spaces, language practices, language ideologies, transnationalism, mobilities and sign language media. Annelies currently investigates International Sign and sign multilingualism in the context of professional mobility. Annelies has directed seven ethnographic documentary films which focus on multilingual and multimodal communication involving deaf people.

Peter De Costa

Michigan State University

Linguistic Entrepreneurship and Emotion Labor in Transnational Higher Education

Peter I. De Costa is a Professor in the Department of Linguistics, Languages & Cultures and the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University, where he directs the Master’s in TESOL program in the College of Arts & Letters. He is also the English as a Second Language (ESL) graduate director in the College of Education.  As a critical applied linguist, his research areas include emotions, identity, ideology and ethics in language learning, language teaching, and language policy. In addition, his ecologically- and social justice-oriented work looks at the intersection between second language acquisition (SLA), second language teacher education (SLTE), and language policy. He is the co-editor of TESOL Quarterly and the President Elect of the American Association for Applied Linguistics.

Robyn Ober

Batchelor Institute

Slipping and Sliding through Aboriginal English – Taking the ordinary to create extraordinary Indigenous educational spaces

Dr. Robyn Ober is a Mamu/Djirribal woman from Far North Queensland and a Lead Researcher at Batchelor Institute, Northern Territory. Her association with Batchelor Institute spans three decades.

Robyn has been at the front line of the development of both-ways pedagogy, working to combine Indigenous and non-Indigenous ways of knowing, being and learning in teaching practice and in research. She has gathered awards for her teaching in Indigenous and both-ways higher education and vocational education training.

Dr. Ober is a respected researcher in Indigenous educational leadership and both-ways teaching and learning, with her work appearing in conferences, journals and national reports. In her doctoral work, she investigated identity and culture expressed in and through Aboriginal English. Dr Ober’s expertise has been called upon in numerous consultancies on education delivery, both-ways education, Indigenous research methodologies in the Northern Territory, national and international indigenous educational contexts.

Sari Pietikäinen

University of Jyväskylä

Arctic Cold Rush Assemblage: Towards a sociolinguistics of connections

Sari Pietikäinen is a sociolinguist and discourse scholar whose research focuses on the power of discourse in revaluing natural resources, in knowledge production, and in the politics of language and identity. Using multiple approaches, including assemblage ontology, nexus analysis, critical discourse analysis, and ethnography, she has tracked shifts in language ideologies and identity categories in peripheries of nation-states in Western Europe, and examined the interaction between material, discursive and affective dimensions related to Cold Rush, an intensified transformation of the Arctic commons into commodities.

In collaboration with stakeholders and colleagues, Sari has experimented with various knowledge designs, such as science postcards, cartoons, art-based conversation pieces, and photo exhibitions, to engage various audiences in discussing research findings related to Cold Rush, professional sports as wrok, and multilingual language practices.

Sari has published widely on these topics, including Assemblage of art, discourse and ice hockey: Designing knowledge about work (2022, Journal of Sociolinguistics), Powered by assemblage: language for multiplicity (2021, International Journal of the Sociology of Language), Uusi kurssi kohti diskurssia (2019, with Anne Mäntynen), Critical Sociolinguistic Research Methods (2018, with Monica Heller and Joan Pujolar), Sociolinguistics from Periphery (2016, with Helen Kelly-Holmes, Alexandre Jaffe, and Nikolas Coupland).

Sari works as a professor of Discourse Studies at the University of Jyväskylä and is co-Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Sociolinguistics.

Zhu Hua

University College London

Hierarchy of things: What can we do with folk theories of language and culture?

Zhu Hua is Professor of Language Learning and Intercultural Communication and Director of International Centre for Intercultural Studies at the Institute of Education, University College London (UCL).  She is an elected Fellow of Academy of Social Sciences, UK and Fellow and Elected Board member of the International Academy for Intercultural Research. She is Chair of British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL) since 2021. Her main research interests span across multilingual and intercultural communication and child language. She has led a number of research projects and knowledge transfer projects funded by the UK research councils including AHRC, ESRC, the Leverhulme, British Academy and the Academy of Medical Science. She is a book series co-editor for Routledge Studies in Language and Intercultural Communication and Cambridge Key Topics in Applied Linguistics and Cambridge Elements in Applied Linguistics.



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