Dr. Brook Bolander
Brook Bolander is a post-doctoral researcher who has been working at the English Department of the University of Zurich (for Prof. Dr. Marianne Hundt) since 2012. Since completing her doctorate “On language and power in blogs” at the University of Basel in 2012 (supervised by Prof. Dr. Miriam A. Locher and Prof. Emeritus Dr. Richard J. Watts), she has been working within the field of language and globalisation, notably with regards to the role of English as a global language. These interests have fed into a project she has designed on the historical and contemporary importance of English for the global Shia Ismaili Muslim community. Within the scope of this project, she has also worked as a research fellow in the Central Asian Studies Institute of the American University of Central Asia, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (July to December 2013). She has published within the fields of sociolinguistics, particularly with respect to educational inequality; and computer-mediated communication, particularly on disagreements, agreements and power in blogs, on identity construction in Facebook, and on methodology. She is currently preparing a special issue (co-edited with Dr. Till Mostowlansky, Central Asian Studies, University of Bern, Switzerland) on “Traversing super-, trans- and inter-: Central and South Asia revisited” for the International Journal of the Sociology of Language.
- Bolander, Brook. 2012. “Disagreements and Agreements in Personal/Diary Blogs: A Closer Look at Responsiveness.” Journal of Pragmatics 44: 1607–1622. Special issue on “Theorising disagreement”, ed. by Jo Angouri, and Miriam A. Locher.
- Bolander, Brook. 2013. Language and Power in Blogs: Interaction, Disagreements and Agreements. Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 237. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
- Bolander, Brook, and Miriam A. Locher. 2014. “Doing Sociolinguistic Research on Computer-Mediated Data: A Review of Four Methodological Issues.” Discourse, Context & Media 3, 14-26.
- Bolander, Brook, and Miriam A. Locher. In press, 2015. “Language, Identity and ‘Acts of Positioning’ in Facebook: Preliminary Results of a Pilot Study.” Special issue on “Relational Work in Facebook and Discussion Boards/Fora” for Pragmatics, ed. by Miriam A. Locher, Brook Bolander, and Nicole Höhn.
Local constructions of a global community: English and Shia Ismaili Muslims in and beyond South and Central Asia
This project explores the role of English for the transnational community of Shia Ismaili Muslims, consisting of c. 10 to 15 million individuals living in over 25 countries. English has been central to Ismaili ideology and practice since the British Raj. Today, it is the community’s official language and lingua franca. While Ismailis have captured the attention of sociologists, historians and anthropologists, there is a lack of linguistic research. This project aims to fill this gap by exploring why English is at the heart of a transnational Muslim community; how English came to be the community’s official language; and whether the global importance of English is mirrored on a local level. To address these aims, I conducted seven months of ethnographic fieldwork in Northern Pakistan and Eastern Tajikistan – two of the places with the highest density of Ismailis (along with Western China and Eastern Afghanistan), yet with very different past and present political and linguistic landscapes. I will also use official Ismaili discourse and colonial records to explore how and why English is important to the community. By studying the interplay between local Ismaili communities and the global Ismaili community in connection with the past and present roles of English, this project contributes to contemporary scholarship on the sociolinguistics of globalisation, language and transnational space, and language and religion.