Getting started: SAALinBiH. Challenging stereotypes and prejudices

Merima Osmankadic, President of SAALinBiH

The Society for the Advancement of Applied Linguistics in Bosnia and Herzegovina (SAALinBiH) may be a young association of applied linguistics, but it follows in the footsteps of a long and rich tradition of doing research in the broad field of applied linguistics, which started at an institutional level in 1973 in the once common state of South Slavic nations – former Yugoslavia, under the name of the Yugoslav Society of Applied Linguistics (transformed into an Association of Yugoslav Societies of Applied Linguistics in 1976).

The Association of Yugoslav Societies of Applied Linguistics broke up with the split of Yugoslavia in 1990-1991, which was followed by a brutal war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. After several failed attempts to form an association of applied linguistics at the state level, SAALinBiH was eventually founded in September 2018.

Bearing in mind that the Bosnian-Herzegovinian Society of Applied Linguistics had once been one of the active societies within the Association of Yugoslav Societies of Applied Linguistics (its first President, distinguished Professor Ranko Bugarski, was Vice President of AILA in the period 1981-1984), it felt only natural for SAALinBiH to reunite with its global family of AILA and join AILA as a now new national affiliate.

We are grateful to our friends in AILA for all their support and encouragement, and for giving us a nudge in the right direction, most notably Professor Daniel Perrin, President of AILA, Professor Claire Kramsch, Past President of AILA, and Professor Bernd Rüschoff.

As a new AILA national affiliate, SAALinBiH hopes to continue where its predecessor stopped many years ago, networking and collaborating with other national affiliates in trying to tackle the most current language and communication-related social issues and being socially responsible in doing academic research.

The world’s nations and their languages have never been closer in a global world as we know it today, and yet it seems as if there have never been more stereotypes and prejudices against those who are different and who speak a different language. It is therefore of pivotal importance for us as applied linguists to use our expertise and our research to challenge these stereotypes and prejudices.

The first activity of SAALinBiH is the organization of the 11th AILA-Europe Junior Researcher Meeting (JRM) at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Sarajevo, on 26-28 September 2019. JRM 2019, under the title Multiperspectivity in Applied Linguistics, has invited early career applied linguists to Sarajevo to present and discuss their research findings, ongoing studies and projects in an interactive environment and exchange experience with other young scholars from all around Europe.

On a more personal note, I want to use this opportunity and pay tribute to Professor Ranko Bugarski, the first President of the Association of Yugoslav Societies of Applied Linguistics, who sent me his paper Applied Linguistics in Yugoslavia: A Veteran’s Recollections, published in Jezik u upotrebi/Language in Use: primenjena lingvistika u čast Ranku Bugarskom, ed. by Vera Vasić, Novi Sad: Društvo za primenjenu lingvistiku Srbije, 2011, pp. 45-51, as his contribution to the upcoming 11th AILA-Europe JRM in Applied Linguistics, which is to take place in Sarajevo in September 2019. In his personal communication with me he generously offered us to use the above mentioned text in any way we find appropriate for the purposes of the JRM 2019. It was this text that served as the main source of inspiration for the present text and of relevant information regarding the tradition of institutionalized research in the field of applied linguistics in the former Yugoslavia, of which Bosnia and Herzegovina was an integral part.