METM23 presentation

Against native-speakerism: authors’ editors as access allies

Kate Sotejeff-Wilson, Jyväskylä, Finland; Theresa Truax-Gischler, Leiden, Netherlands; Wendy Baldwin, Donostia/San Sebastián, Spain

For multilingual, transnational, and less established scholars, academic publishing in English is rife with unequal access: native-speakerism, deficit models of linguistic skills acquisition, academic English writing conventions, and socioeconomic hierarchies all act as barriers to publication. Recent applied linguistics research has noted the role editors play as prime “language quality regulators” and “genre police”. If we want to help authors not only access a fundamentally gamed system but also challenge it, we need to intervene both in hegemonic language practices and in the social relations that produce them.

Inspired by developments in applied linguistics and English for Academic Purposes, we share editorial practices designed around the concept of “publishing access allyship”, a form of author–editor solidarity based on shared critical agency that works to 1) level the linguistic publishing field through reflective and dialogic editorial strategies and 2) open new spaces for author–editor relationships that intentionally address power hierarchies (e.g. client vs service provider, precarity vs status, language vs disciplinary authority).

Allied editorial strategies covered include:

  • helping authors use their full multilingual repertoire to fine-tune their unique critical voices, stances, and research stories
  • resisting normative time frames to allow for deep engagement with critical thinking/writing by scheduling for asynchronous, slow, and “lost time” modes of textual production
  • creating allied workspaces that intentionally enhance author–editor critical reflection and dialogue in the text (comments, marginalia, notes), in personal communication (video calls, emails), at all stages of academic writing for publication (writing coaching, developmental editing, interaction with publishers and reviewers), and through social writing groups, retreats, mentoring sessions, and two-way transnational literacy autobiographies.

Like prosthetic knees or RSI wrist braces, critical agency supports are vital. Academic editors working with authors in any discipline will leave this session with ideas for building allied author–editor collaboration into their editorial service design.
[Read a member’s review of the presentation.]

About the presenters

Kate Sotejeff-Wilson enjoys midwifing people’s texts into being. She translates from Finnish, German, and Polish, edits for multilingual authors writing in English, and runs writing retreats. Born in Wales, she did her history PhD research in London, Berlin, Poznań, and Warsaw, and is now also a Finn.

Theresa Truax-Gischler is a developmental and substantive authors’ editor in the narrative social sciences and humanities working with multilingual writers. An enthusiast of cross-cultural knowledge production and multimodal communication, Theresa spends part of her life learning how to be a more effective disability ally. She lives in Leiden, Netherlands.

Wendy Baldwin is an authors’ editor and Spanish–English translator specializing in the social sciences. Based in Spain, she also trains developing scholar-writers and runs writing retreats for academics. Before that, she was an EAP instructor in the US. Her academic training was in functional linguistics, specializing in psycholinguistics.