Women & Gender Studies Institute

Bonnie McElhinny

Ph.D. Stanford University; M.A. Stanford University; M.A. Johns Hopkins University; B.A. University of Pittsburgh

phone : 416-978-5259

office : 2042

email : bonnie.mcelhinny@utoronto.ca

Bonnie McElhinny is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Women and Gender Studies at the University of Toronto.  Her SSHRC-funded research focuses on historical and contemporary investigations of North American interventions into Filipino health care and childcare practices, and reactions and resistance to these.  Her current work includes an investigation into early 20th century attempts to address high infant mortality rates in the Philippines during the American colonial occupation, as a case study in imperial attempts to restructure affect and intimacy, and the ways debates about children were used as a terrain for imperial and nationalist arguments.  She also investigates contemporary ramifications of these histories in research  on Filipino-Canadians with the Kritical Kolectibo. McElhinny is the founding co-editor of the journal Gender and Language, and has recently written a number of theoretical papers on the role of language in an era of globalization, corporatization and neoliberalization.

This year, I have engaged in four key projects that engage various aspects of American imperialism, Canadian immigration and colonial practice, and global political economy. In a book manuscript tentatively entitled Producing the A-1 Baby:  Childhood, Colonial Modernity and the Politics of Comparison in the U.S.-Occupied Philippines I have been examining the way that interventions into Filipino child-rearing practices, especially to try to redress high infant mortality rates, were used as an excuse and justification for the U.S. colonial presence, even in the face of sharp criticisms from Filipino physicians and politicians.  This SSHRC-funded research examines how Filipino child-rearing strategies were described and stigmatized in educational, public health and public welfare discourses, the establishment of the earliest health clinics to purvey information to Filipino families, attempts to inculcate good hygiene and work discipline amongst Filipino children in schools, and the establishment of the earliest welfare institutions to deal with orphans or the children of the poor and the sick.  It offers a transnational picture, by considering when and how practices that linked gender, childhood and health in the Philippines were informed by or intertwined with racialized practices in the U.S. (especially for African-Americans and Natives) and other colonized sites in Southeast Asia as well as in other U.S. dependencies like Guam, Panama and Puerto Rico.  This project is situated within literatures on the international and imperial policies on children and gender in the early 20th century, colonial and postcolonial politics in the Philippines, the nature of American imperialism and racial politics, and how welfare states are initiated in colonial settings. This year, I also wrote chapters on the founding of co-educational industrial education in the Philippines (based on educational practices used for Hawaiians, African Americans and Natives in the U.S. and in the British empire in Africa), and the American Guardian Association (an organization founded for children with Filipino mothers and American fathers) as a site where Filipino discourses on the mestizo collided with American discourses of miscegenation.

I also investigate contemporary ramifications of these imperial histories in research on Filipino-Canadians with the Kritical Kolectibo, a U of T based group that undertakes critical research on the Filipino diaspora. The Philippines became Canada’s largest source of short- and long-term migrants in 2010, surpassing China and India, both of which are more than ten times larger.  Filipinos are also the fourth-largest racialized minority group in Canada.   This year, I edited a volume entitled Filipinos in Canada:  Disturbing Invisibility (appearing in November 2012 with U of T Press) with Roland Sintos Coloma (associate professor at SESE, and affiliate faculty with WGSI), Ethel Tungohan (a Ph.D. student in political science and a student in the WGSI collaborative program), John Paul C. Catungal (a Ph.D. student in geography), and Lisa M. Davidson (a Ph.D. student in anthropology). In this volume, the first wide-ranging edited collection of academic writings on Filipina/os in Canada, we ask how the contours of Canadian political, academic, and social institutions, both historical and contemporary, shape the politics of Filipina/o invisibility, visibility, and hypervisibility, and how we can disrupt and intervene in the prevailing themes of the over-determined figures that have come to define the lives of Filipina/os in Canada.  The four sections of the book focus on:  Difference and Recognition; Gender, Migration, and Labour; Representation and Its Discontents; and Youth Spaces and Subjectivities.  The volume also includes a selection of cultural works from community members and activists.  In addition to a co-written introduction to the volume, I contributed an analysis of political implications of the new permanent exhibit of Filipino colonial artifacts from the St. Louis World’s Fair at the Royal Ontario Museum.

I also received a SSHRC Insight Development Grant this year for a new project with Krista Maxwell (post-doctoral fellow, anthropology),  entitled  Racial Hierarchies, Imperial Circuits and Health Care in Canada:  International and Immigrant Nurses Working in Indigenous Communities, 1945-1985.  Research on settler colonies, like Canada, often focuses on White/Indigenous relations, or Native-Born/Immigrant relations (especially where these are understood as White-Non-White), but rarely fully takes into account the ways that the position of each is elaborated with respect to all the others.  In this project, we try to take on Sunera Thobani’s challenge to more fully understand the ways that racialization and colonization work by investigating  “the complex racial hierarchy developed by colonizing powers that introduced and sustained force relations not only among settlers and Aboriginal peoples but also among the other racialized groups ranked in the Canadian hierarchy as lower than whites but higher than Aboriginal peoples” (Thobani 2007:17).  Drawing on my research on healthcare under the American imperial regime in the Philippines, and Dr. Maxwell’s expertise on aboriginal health in Canada, we have begun to review archival research on three key sites for understanding ideologies of whiteness and racialization in the Canadian settler colony as they are played out in imagining and managing indigenous health: (1)  interactions in the 1950s and 1960s between Indigenous communities and nurses from newly decolonized countries who were given field placements in Aboriginal communities through the Colombo Plan; (2) interactions between Indigenous communities and a group of British nurses recruited to work for Indigenous Health Services in the early 1980s;  and (3) interactions between Indigenous communities and (other) racialized immigrant nurses hired by Indian Health Services  and provincial public health services in the 1950s-1980s, especially from the Philippines and the Caribbean.

Fourth, with Monica Heller (SESE, president-elect of the American Anthropology Association) I secured a book contract for a book tentatively entitled Language, Power, History:  Social and Political Imaginaries.  This book offers an account of linguistic studies in anthropology as they have been shaped within contexts of imperialism, capitalism, nationalism, post-nationalism, war and fascism, as well as feminist, anti-racist, post-colonial, Marxist, and queer studies. To re-imagine linguistic anthropology in ways attentive to political and economic conditions, the book is organized as loosely chronological account of how capitalism, as an uneven world system, has produced particular ways of mobilizing language in the production of inequality, and of the social differences which legitimize it.  This book can be understood as  building upon Said’s analysis of the role that comparative linguistics plays in racial hierarchization in Orientalism, but considerably expanding the chronology and scope of that kind of critical analysis of linguistic work.  The organization of chapters reflects our attention to history and genealogy, to uneven spatiality, and to struggles over things that count. We considers how the study of language is linked to and shaped by changing economic regimes from mercantile capitalism and industrial capitalism, from monopology capitalism to finance capitalism.  We investigate the role of language in a variety of forms of colonial expansion (missionary and secular), in the rise of the slave trade and plantation economies, in the evolution of changing forms of nation, and in fascist ideologies of language and communist linguistic ideologies. We are particularly interested in when and how studies of language are used to challenge the ideas about race, gender, sexuality, class, and culture which help legitimize specific regimes of truth and the inequalities they produce — and when they reify them.  We conceive of this book as warty, frank and blunt history of linguistic scholarship which shows how some ideas about language, even those which may be seen as progressive in some ways, can still end up shoring up existing inequalities.

Finally, I continue to think about how global economies affect knowledge production in more concrete ways in my editorial work.  During my sabbatical year, I completed a five-year term as the founding co-editor of the journal Gender and Language, and  joined the editorial team of the Journal of Sociolinguistics.  In my work for both journals, I am interested in bringing linguistic analyses into fuller conversations with critical theory and scholarship on gender, race, sexuality, empire and economy, as well as thinking carefully about how best to engender global conversations about linguistic theory and practice in a range of editorial practices (board members, referees, reviewing practices, etc.) in ways which challenge, rather than reproduce, inequitable forms of dialogue and intellectual exchange.


I.          Books

2012. Filipinos in CanadaDisturbing Invisibility. Ed. By Roland Coloma, Bonnie McElhinny, Ethel Tungohan, J.P. Catungal, and Lisa Davidson. University of Toronto Press.  20 chapters; I  am second, co-editor of the volume, lead co-author on the introduction, and solo author of one chapter.

2007.  Words, Worlds, Material Girls:  Language and Gender in a Global Economy, ed. Bonnie McElhinny.  Berlin/New York:  Mouton de Gruyter.  452 pp.

In progress.  Policing Language and Gender Length = 451 pp.  Oxford University Press.  Currently being revised in light of reviewers’ comments.


II.        Refereed Articles and Chapters

Under review..   Bonnie McElhinny, Christianne Collantes,  Shirley Yeung, Monina Febria, Valerie Damasco, Monina Febria, Jason Salonga, and Angela DeOcampo  “So What’s the Filipino Thing to Do?  Music, Struggle and Ideologies of Identity among Filipino Canadian Youth in Toronto.”  12,000 words.  Revised in light of reviewers’ comments and resubmitted  to Journal of Asian American Studies.

2012.  Spectres of (In)visibility:  Filipina/o Labour, Culture and Youth in Canada. (Bonnie McElhinny, Lisa Davidson, J.P. Catungal, Ethel Tungohan and Roland Coloma).  To appear in Filipinos in CanadaDisturbing Invisibility. Ed. By Roland Coloma, Bonnie McElhinny, Ethel Tungohan, J.P. Catungal, and Lisa Davidson. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp. 10-64. Anticipated publication date:  spring 2012.

2012.  Meet Me in Toronto:  The Re-Exhibition of Artifacts from the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition at the Royal Ontario Museum. To appear in Filipinos in CanadaDisturbing Invisibility. Ed. By Roland Coloma, Bonnie McElhinny, Ethel Tungohan, J.P. Catungal, and Lisa Davidson.   Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp. 291-316.  Anticipated publication date:  spring 2012.

2011.  Silicon Valley Sociolinguistics?  Analyzing Language, Gender and Communities of Practice in the New Knowledge Economy. In  Language in Late Capitalism:  Pride and Profit, Edited by Alexandre Duchêne and Monica Heller.  Taylor & Francis:  Routledge (Series on Critical Multilingualism), pp. 230-261.

2010. The Audacity of Affect:  Gender, Race and History in Linguistic Accounts of Legitimacy and Belonging  Annual Review of Anthropology 39:309-328.

2009.   Producing the A-1 Baby:  Puericulture Centres and the Birth of the Clinic in the U.S. Occupied Philippines 1906-1946.  Philippine Studies  Special Issue on Public Health in the Twentieth Century Philippines.  57(2):219-60.

2009. Bonnie McElhinny, Shirley Yeung, Valerie Damasco, Angela DeOcampo, Monina Febria, Christianne Collantes, and Jason Salonga.   “Talk about Luck”:  Coherence, Contingency, Character and Class in the Life Stories of Filipino Canadians in Toronto.  In Beyond Yellow English:  Toward a Linguistic Anthropology of Asian Pacific America,  edited by Angela Reyes and Adrienne Lo.  Oxford:  Oxford University Press, pp. 93-110.

2007a.  “Language, Gender and Economies in Global Transitions:  Provocative and Provoking Questions about How Gender is Articulated.” In Words, Worlds, Material Girls:  Language and Gender in a Global Economy, ed. Bonnie McElhinny. Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 1-38.

2007b.  “Recontextualizing the American Occupation of the Philippines:  Erasure and Ventriloquism in Colonial Discourse around Men, Medicine and Infant Mortality.” In Words, Worlds, Material Girls:  Language and Gender in a Global Economy, ed. Bonnie McElhinny. Mouton de Gruyter, pp.205-236.

2007c. “Prétextes de L’Empire Américain aux Philippines:  Recontextualisation des Histoires de la Médecine Impériale” [Pretexts of American Empire in the Philippines:  Recontextualizing Histories of American Medicine]  Anthropologie et Sociétés Special issue on “Dynamiques et pratiques langagières.”  edited by Michelle Daveluy. 31(1):75-95.

2006.  “Written in Sand:  Language and Landscape in an Environmental Dispute in Southern Ontario.” Critical Discourse Studies.  3(2):123-152.

2005. “’Kissing a Baby is Not At All Good For Him’:  Infant Mortality,  Medicine and Colonial Modernity in the U.S.-Occupied Philippines”  American Anthropologist.  107(2):183-194.

2004.  “’Radical Feminist’ as Label, Libel and Laudatory Chant:  The Politics of Theoretical Taxonomies in Feminist Linguistics.”  In Language and Woman’s Place:  Text and Commentaries, 2nd expanded edition by Robin Lakoff and  edited by Mary Bucholtz.  Oxford:  Oxford University Press.  Pp. 129-135.

2003a. “Fearful, Forceful Agents of the Law:  Ideologies about Language and Gender in Police Officers’ Narratives about the Use of Physical Force” Pragmatics  13(2):253-284.

2003b.  “Gender, Publication and Citation in Sociolinguistics and Linguistic Anthropology:  The Construction of a Scholarly Canon” (with Claire Hicks, Marijke Hols, Jeff Holtzkener and  Susanne Unger). Language in Society 32(3):299-328.

2001  “See No Evil, Speak No Evil:  White Police Officers’ Arguments Around Race and Affirmative Action.”  Journal of Linguistic Anthropology .  11(1):65-78.

1999  “More on The Third Dialect of English: Linguistic Constraints on the Use of Three Phonological Variables in Pittsburgh.” Language Variation and Change  11(2):171-195.

1998 “Cooperative Culture: Reconciling Equality and Difference in a Multicultural Women’s Co-operative.” Ethnos  63(3):383-412.

1997  “Ideologies of Public and Private Language in Sociolinguistics.” Gender and Discourse, ed. Ruth Wodak.  London:  Sage Publishers. Pp. 106-139.

1996 Freeman, Rebecca and Bonnie McElhinny.  “Language and Gender.” Sociolinguistics and Language Teaching,    eds. Sandra Lee McKay and Nancy Hornberger.  Cambridge:          Cambridge University Press, pp. 218-280.

1995“Challenging Hegemonic Masculinities:  Female and Male Police Officers Handling Domestic Violence.”  Gender Articulated, eds. Kira Hall and Mary Bucholtz.  NY:  Routledge, pp. 217- 243.

1994    “An Economy of Affect:  Objectivity, Masculinity and the Gendering of Police Work.”    In Dislocating Masculinity:  Comparative Ethnographies, eds. Andrea Cornwall and Nancy          Lindisfarne.  NY:  Routledge.  159-171.

1993  “Copula and Auxiliary Contraction in the Speech of White Americans.” American  Speech 68(4):371-399.


III.       Non-Refereed Articles and Chapters

Forthcoming. Theorizing Gender in Sociolinguistics and Linguistic Anthropology:  Towards Effective Interventions in Gender Inequity..”  The Language and Gender Handbook, 2nd edition.  eds.  Janet Holmes,  Miriam Meyerhoff and Susan Ehrlich.  Oxford:  Basil Blackwell. 11, 400 words. (Revised and updated version of McElhinny 2003; 25% new content).

In press. (with Kori Allan and Lalaie Ameeriar).   Gender, Racialization, Labour and Language in Multicultural Toronto. In Cultural Anthropology, Fourth Canadian Edition. William Haviland, Gary Crawford and Shirley Fedorak, eds. Nelson Publishers. 2500 words.  To appear January 2012.

2011. Bonnie McElhinny, Ann Weatherall, Elizabeth Stokoe.  Five Years of Gender and Language. Gender and Language 5(2): 167-173.

2007a. (with Sara Mills).  From the editors:  A report on our first year. Gender and Language.  1(2):169-172.

2007b. (with Sara Mills) “Launching Studies of Gender and Language in the Early 21st Century.”  Gender and Language.  1(1):1-13.

2006a.  Bonnie McElhinny.  “Deborah Cameron.” In Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, 2nd edition.  Ed. by Keith Brown. Oxford:  Elsevier.  190-191.

2006b.  Bonnie McElhinny.  “John Rickford.” In Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, 2nd edition.  Ed. by, Keith Brown.  Oxford:  Elsevier.  627-628

2006c. Bonnie McElhinny and Shaylih Muehlmann.  “Discursive Practice Theory.”  In Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, 2nd edition.  Ed. by Keith Brown.  Section Editor, Michael Silverstein.   Oxford:  Elsevier.  696-700.

2005.  “Gender and the Stories Pittsburgh Police Officers Tell About Using Physical Force.”  In Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective, eds. Caroline Brettell and Carolyn Sargent.  4th edition.  London:  Pearson Prentice Hall.  Pp. 219-230. [Also Reprinted in the 5th edition of this collection, published in 2009.]

2003a.  “Language and Gender.”  In Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender:  Men and Women in the World’s Cultures, eds. Carol R. Ember and Melvin Ember.  Human Relations Area File/Kluwer/Plenum, pp. 150-162.

2003b  “Theorizing Gender in Sociolinguistics and Linguistic Anthropology.”  The Language and Gender Handbook, eds. Janet Holmes and Miriam Meyerhoff.  Oxford:  Basil Blackwell.  Pp. 21-42.

2002a.  “Women and Child-rearing.”  In Cultural Anthropology, First Canadian Edition  By William Haviland, Gary Crawford and Shirley Fedorak.  Nelson Publishers, pp. 143-5.

2002b.  “Language, Sexuality and Political Economy.”  Language and Sexuality:    Contesting Meaning in Theory and Practice, eds. Kathryn Campbell-Kibler, Robert Podesva, Sarah Roberts, Andrew Wong.  Palo Alto:  Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford Univ.  Pp. 111-134.

2002c.  “Armed Robbers, Assholes and Agency:  Linguistic Ideologies, Gender and Police Officers.”  Gendered Practices in Language,  eds. Sarah Benor, Mary Rose,          Deyvani Sharma, Julie Sweetland and Qing Zhang.  Palo Alto:    CSLI, Stanford, pp. 65 – 90.

2002d.  (with Marijke Hols, Jeff Holtzkener, Susanne Unger and Claire Hicks).     “Women’s Writing in Sociolinguistics and Linguistic Anthropology, 1965-1995.”  Under Construction:  Gendered Practices in Language,  eds. Sarah Benor, Mary Rose, Deyvani Sharma, Julie Sweetland and           Qing Zhang.  Palo Alto:  CSLI, Stanford, pp. 33 – 51.

2000a. “Dale Spender.” Routledge Encyclopedia of Feminist Theories, ed. Lorraine Code.  NY:  Routledge, p. 473.

2000b.  “Affirmative Action and Veterans’ Hiring Preferences:  Two Quota Systems.”  For Voices:  Newsletter of the Association for Feminist Anthropology.  July, 4(1):1-6.

1998a  “Genealogies of Gender Theory:  Practice Theory and Feminism in Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology.”  Social Analysis   42(3): 164-189.

1998b  “‘I Don’t Smile Much Anymore’:  Affect, Gender and the Discourse of Pittsburgh Police Officers.”  Language and Gender:  A Reader, ed. Jennifer Coates.  Malden, MA:  Blackwell. Pp.  309-327.

1995    Cunningham, Clark and Bonnie McElhinny.  “Taking it to the Streets:  Putting Discourse Analysis to the Service of a Public Defender’s Office” Clinical Law Review  2(1):285-314.


Undergraduate Courses Taught

  • Field Methods in Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology
  • Language and Society
  • Language, Ideology and Political Economy
  • Language and Gender
  • Scientific Perspectives on Gender (co-taught with psychology and philosophy)
  • Advanced Research Methods in Women and Gender Studies
  • Theories and Methods for Studying Gender in the Social Sciences
  • Methods and Reasoning in the Social Sciences
  • Introduction to Feminist Studies
  • Black English.
  • Gender, the Philippines and the Filipino Diaspora

Graduate Courses Taught

  • Language and Gender
  • Language and Social Action
  • Anthropology of  Gender
  • Law in Context
  • Theories and Methods for Studying Gender in the Social Sciences
  • Advanced Research in Women and Gender Studies
  • Career Development in Anthropology
  • Colonial/Postcolonial Discourse
  • Colonialism, Empire and Nation in Filipino History
  • Anthropology of Migration, Settlement and Belonging


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