Dear GURT 2020 Participants,
After careful deliberation and consultation, we have concluded that we must cancel GURT 2020.
The international health crisis created by the coronavirus has become unpredictable as any country may join the list of affected areas and new cases are begin reported inside the USA, in Oregon, California, and just this morning in the vicinity of DC, in Maryland. In New York City, too, cases are on the rise and there are reported cases of racism, panic, and avoidance of crowds.
We know how much this GURT program and theme means to all of us. We are most acutely aware that for those of you who are junior researchers and for those of you working from or on the Global South, particularly, the conference was a unique opportunity to share your work with a very wide audience, and to forge new research and personal connections. For 14 months now, we have worked intensely on the academic program and on internal and external grants to support wide participation.
But we were going to have 320 participants from 25 different countries. Georgetown University and many other universities in the USA and in quite a few of your countries have imposed international travel bans, in some cases even discouraging domestic travel. Many GURT participants are in a risk category (compromised immune system, older age) and/or have family members in a risk category. The risk of airports imposing harsh entry or re-entry measures is very high, and things are volatile and can change at any moment. We must cancel.
The pre-conference event at the Center for Applied Linguistics is still happening on March 12th at 11 am – 12:15 pm Washington DC local time. They will stream the session. Those of you who wish to do so, can attend it virtually. We will send instructions for how to join the event virtually in a separate message.
Alternatives to GURT: We cannot make plans to postpone the conference as it is unclear when this crisis will end. On the other hand, postponing for one year would not be possible because planning for the next GURT 2021 (on a different theme and by different GU faculty members) is already underway. So we are working hard and fast to plan two or three alternative ways in which all invited and refereed presenters can share their presentations and engage in exchanges and communication about their research. We know this won’t be a substitute for a face-to-face meeting. But we hope it will foster a GURT community engaged in research into Mutilingualisms in the Global South and Global North. We would also like to plan publications stemming from the different areas of interest that GURT was covering. We will be planning publications on different themes and topic clusters. You can expect to be contacted by us regarding publications in the coming weeks and during the summer.
We know that many of you will be disappointed with this decision and we are very sorry for having had to make it, but we believe that this is the most prudent course of action.
With best wishes
Anna De Fina and Lourdes Ortega
Organizers of GURT 2020