Michael Clyne Prize 2012

By July 30, 2012News

Dr Butorac (middle) and her supervisors, Prof Piller and Dr Takahashi

The Language-on-the-Move team is delighted that the 2012 Michael Clyne Prize has been awarded to one of our supervision group, Dr Donna Butorac, who graduated from Macquarie University last year.

Following a very generous contribution by Michael Clyne and also funded by donations in Michael’s honour, the annual Michael Clyne Prize has been established for the best postgraduate research thesis in the area of immigrant bilingualism and language contact in Australia. The Michael Clyne Prize is jointly administered by the Australian Linguistic Society and the Applied Linguistics Association of Australia. A list of past recipients is available here.

Donna was awarded the 2012 Michael Clyne Prize for her thesis Imagined Identity, Remembered Self: Settlement Language Learning and the Negotiation of Gendered Subjectivity. The full text of the thesis can be accessed here.

The thesis is an ethnographic study exploring the impact of English language learning on gendered subjectivity, specifically in the context of transnational migration. With interactions spanning a twenty-two month period, it follows the language learning and settlement trajectories of a group of nine recent women migrants to Australia. The resulting analysis is based on a large corpus of narrative data derived from personal interviews, discussion groups, email journals, blogs, and personal communication. Adopting a critical, feminist approach, the study foregrounds the reported experience of migrant women in order to understand how coming into voice in English impacts a learner’s sense of self and settlement aspirations. Examining data from three interactional domains, corresponding to the experience of subjectivity in family, society and work, the analysis looks at issues related to language, race, and gender that impacted the participants’ settlement trajectories. It finds that the impact of attitudes to race and gender subjectivities in Australia, and the ways that migration is a gendered process, are deeply involved in the impact that learning English has on aspiration and selfhood in this context.

In addition, the study explores the way that identity is articulated in both theory and practice, ultimately proposing an inclusive approach, one that aims to advance the theorisation of identity in sociolinguistics by accommodating a poststructuralist multiplicity alongside the individual’s perception of a core self.

This is an outstanding doctoral thesis. It makes an original contribution to scholarship across several areas, including sociolinguistics, studies of gender, studies of culture and identity, and more broadly migration studies. […] It also makes a genuine contribution to its stated goal of promoting social justice. (Examiner)

Donna’s higher degree research was supported by a Macquarie University Excellence Scholarship and she was supervised by Ingrid Piller and Kimie Takahashi.

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  • Khan

    Wow, great news. Loads of congratulations to Dr Donna for such an outstanding recognition of her work and to the supervisors: Professor Piller and Dr. Kimie. Calls for celeberations!

    Best wishes,


  • Kerry Taylor-Leech

    Many congratulations Dr Donna. A magnificent achievement!

  • Guo Jian

    Congratulations to Dr Donna and to the great supervisors: Professor Piller and Dr. Takahashi!!Thanks for the acess to the thesis!!

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