The theme of ASFLA 2016, “Language as social power”: 20th century beginnings, 21st century futures, turns our attention in two directions: to celebrate what SFL has achieved and to reinvigorate what it might do.
First, we celebrate the continuing equity agenda of SFL and its partnerships with professionals working for equity across a range of educational, legal, medical and civic institutions. We especially celebrate its genre-based pedagogies and have taken our theme, ‘Language as Social Power’, from the name of a partnership with the Metropolitan East Disadvantaged Schools Programme (DSP). This partnership ran throughout the 1980s; it is one of a number of influential collaborations that have profoundly impacted the development of SFL theory and pedagogy as well as to national curriculum policy.
Second, we want to reinvigorate discussion of how SFL theory, its community and its partners can continue in the coming decades to be effective agents in filling ‘the very springs of affirmation, motivation and imagination’, which Bernstein (1996:5) argues have been drained by inequitable access to institutional power. Neo-liberal government reform agendas over the past twenty years have seen a dismantling of large-scale collective agencies such as the DSP, with innovations geared towards marketing and testing regimes. Does this necessarily mean a fragmentation of semiotic and pedagogic knowledge building resources for professionals on the front line of servicing marginalized groups? Or are new, perhaps submerged, collectives forming to continue and redesign the transformative equity work of SFL?
We invite you to join us from September 27-29, 2016 at the North Sydney campus of the Australian Catholic University (ACU) to explore these questions further with the SFL community.