A new article of mine, ‘On communicative competence…in the field’, is now available on the website of Language & Communication. For many linguistic anthropologists, fieldwork entails working with and in a language or languages we do not master. However, little has been written on field language communicative competence, the development thereof, or the influence it has on the research questions we ask and how we answer them. I describe ways in which I addressed research challenges posed by limited field language competence, developed communicative competence while engaged in research, and made the two endeavors mutually enriching. I call for further discussion of field language communicative competence and our repertoire of practices for managing and improving limited field language while in the field. The article will appear later this year in a special issue ‘Reflections on language and culture fieldwork in the early 21st century’, edited by Suzanne Wertheim and Jocelyn Ahlers.
An article of mine, Body, text, and talk in Maroua Fulbe Qur’anic schooling, has appeared in Text & Talk. It is part of a special issue, The spirit of reading: practices of reading sacred texts, edited by Laura Sterponi, UC Berkeley. In this article, I present a language socialization approach to the study of Qur’anic schooling. Integrating insights from holistic study of the community and the institution, analysis of video recordings of Qur’anic school interaction, and video playback and interviews with community members, I describe the apprenticeship of Fulbe children into Qur’anic orality and literacy as a gradual transfer of responsibility for rendering the sacred text. I conclude by discussing how the language socialization perspective and attention to multiple modalities increase our understanding of Qur’anic schooling as an activity setting in which Muslim subjectivities come into being.