Gender and ethnolinguistic lawfare

Gender and ethnolinguistic lawfare

Just. Journal of Language Rights and Minorities, Revista de Drets Lingüístics i Minories

Guest editors:

Melissa Wallace & Esther Monzó-Nebot


In the wake of rising interest in the role language plays in creating and sustaining social hierarchies, the interrogation of language policies (including regulations, beliefs, and practices; see Spolsky 2004) as they impact women and LGBTQ+ people has focused on those who, as migrants, face new cultures while wielding no political rights as they navigate and experience both social and institutional spaces (Heller 2009; Abji 2016). At the same time, geopolitical trends mark an uptick in violence, exclusion, and inequity which often result in discriminatory lawfare against particular ethnolinguistic communities, broadly writ, and against women and LGBTQ+ people in particular (Vitikainen 2020; Lythgoe 2022). Extreme vulnerability for these communities results from political regimes espousing stances which are anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-queer, anti-minority, and racist. Such lawfare can instantiate itself in the form of discriminatory institutional practices, such as the willful withholding of language access to the vulnerable and the undocumented (Abji 2020; Oliveiro 2021), the advancing of carceral crimmigration agendas (Pakes & Holt 2017; Abji 2020; López-Sala & Barbero 2021), surveillance (Broeders 2007; McDowell and Wonders 2009; Latonero & Kift 2018; Heyman 2022), securitization (Farny 2016; Ghezelbash, Moreno-Lax, Klein & Opeskin 2018; Madoerin 2020; Edmunds 2021), criminalization (Gentile 2014; Olivares 2016; Berti 2021), containment (Ben-Ariyeh & Heins 2021; Piguet 2021), and the externalisation of borders (Carr 2012; Salomon 2017; Ybarra 2019; Aris Escarceno 2022; Yin 2022).

Such practices create increased disadvantages for those who occupy lower steps of the social ladder, particularly women and LGBTQ+ people. Discrimination can also stem from laws which explicitly limit access, rights, and opportunities to women and LGBTQ+ people (Zúñiga-Fajuri 2014; Thomson 2016). It manifests in the current war on gender studies and gender-aware curricula (Goldberg 2021) as well as in increasing proposals to curtail language rights and language planning (Laitin & Reich 2003; Gustafsson, Norström & Åberg 2022); and it includes instances of pervasive resistance to acknowledging the particularly deleterious impact of war, migration, and current immigration policies on women, LGBTQ+ people, and minoritized linguistic communities, including sign language communities. Individuals in these groups are specifically targeted by crimes such as sex trafficking (Cockbain & Sidebottom 2022; Hoff & de Volder 2022), rape (Heartland Alliance International 2014; Reid 2014; Adams 2018; Jaffal 2020), or by the impossibility of accessing safer areas in situations of armed combat (Outright Action International 2014; Hearth 2022). Political reluctance to acknowledge these realities renders (certain) people and abuses invisible while making the dysfunctions of specific political models obvious.

Gendered and ethnolinguistic lawfare privileges monolingualism and heteromasculinity, resulting in systems which are complicit in the creation and sustaining of social spaces in which language and gender have become negative social capital (MADRE et al. 2019; Salazar González 2022). As states continue to fail to meet their obligations to protect minoritized communities as enshrined in international covenants, the rights of people with gender-based identities are sacrificed both within and across borders. How we collectively face our common experience of language barriers (Peled 2020) may hold the key to preserving the fragile international commitment to a new world order that honors the diversity of societies and individuals.

Just. Journal of Language Rights and Minorities, Revista de Drets Lingüístics i Minories is seeking submissions for a special monographic issue dedicated to the confluence of lawfare and gendered ethnolinguistic communities, with particular emphasis on analyses which examine issues of language, the law, and systems and policies that perpetuate or resist oppression to gendered bodies. This collection seeks to explore counter-hegemonic discourses and practices that stand in opposition to policies which exclude, harm, punish, or discriminate against vulnerable gendered ethnolinguistic communities.

Researchers are invited to submit 500- to 700-word abstracts exclusive of references in English, Catalan, or Spanish from a variety of disciplines, including but not limited to legal studies, discourse studies, sociolinguistics, security studies, digital humanities, migration studies, border studies, cultural studies, sociology, gender studies, queer studies, and translation and interpreting studies. We especially encourage articles which examine the following topics, or related topics as seen through other lenses which refract particular vulnerabilities of gendered and linguistically minoritized communities within justice systems and vis-à-vis institutions:

  • State-sponsored sexism and / or violence against gendered, racialized, or linguistically minoritized communities
  • The lawfare of ethnolinguistic discrimination against women and LGBTQ+ people: reaching borders and crossing borders
  • Securitization, criminalization, and crimmigration of migrant women and LGBTQ+ people
  • Lawfare leveraged against gender studies and gender-aware curricula
  • Lawfare targeting women’s reproductive rights and the concomitant effects on particular ethnolinguistic communities
  • Ethnolinguistic enclaves for women and LGBTQ+ people, such as within labor markets, education, and arenas of social engagement
  • Women- and LGBTQ+-led activism in embracing ethnolinguistic diversity
  • Scholars embracing discrimination as their epistemic tradition; framing and allowing the epistemologies of ignorance to continue
  • Lived reality for women and LGBTQ+ people in ethnolinguistic borderlands
  • Justice systems which reinforce social hierarchies and impart injustice upon gender-based and ethnolinguistic communities
  • Invisible crimes against migrant women and LGBTQ+ people
  • Individual and collective harms caused by the social discrimination arising from monolingual bias, including microaggressions against migrant women and LGBTQ+ people based on accentism, audism, and linguicism
  • The relationships between monolingualism and heteronormativity and their impact on people’s perceptions and self-regulated behaviors vis-à-vis language and gender diversity
  • The use of technology to sustain or disrupt gendered and ethnolinguistic communities

Just. Journal of Language Rights & Minorities, Revista de Drets Lingüístics i Minories is a journal dedicated to disseminating scholarship on the protection, enforcement, and promotion of the rights of linguistic minorities as well as related themes arising from the confluence of language, the social dynamics of dominance and oppression, and the law. Interested authors are invited to send 500- to 700-word proposals and inquiries directly to the guest editors: Melissa Wallace ( and Esther Monzó-Nebot ( by April 1st, 2023. Please include a brief bionote about the authors and their affiliations in a separate file. All abstracts and manuscripts should use the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) for both citation ( and drafting. A summary of the drafting CMS guidelines is available in Just’s author guidelines ( Authors of abstracts that are accepted for consideration will be invited to submit a full manuscript that is between 6000 and 8000 words in length (exclusive of abstract and references but including footnotes). Every manuscript will be submitted to a double-blind peer review that includes at least two referees.

The publication of this special issue will adhere to the following editorial timeline:

Abstracts (500-700 words) due to guest editors

15 April 2023

Decision on abstracts

15 July 2023

Submission of full manuscripts

15 January 2024

Final versions of papers

15 June 2024

Decision to authors

15 July 2024

Publication of special issue

October 2024


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