Literacy Brokers and the Emotional Work of Mediation

Ligia Ana Mihut


Literacy brokers—defined as people who assist others with reading and writing—have gained increasing attention in Literacy and Composition Studies (for example, Jerskey; Lillis and Curry; Lunsford). Yet their analytical richness has been marginally examined or subsumed under already established terms such as sponsors of literacy. This essay seeks to reclaim the significance of literacy brokers in doing critical emotional work through what I call literacy as affinity. In this ethnographic study of transnational literacies of Romanian immigrants, I show that as literacy brokers move across contexts, they accumulate knowledge and develop a bi-institutional perspective. In doing so, these brokers serve more than instrumental ends; they perform literacy as affinity by brokering personal experiences and languages of nation-states and by participating in advocacy for the sake of others.


literacy/language broker; transnational literacy; affinity; emotional work

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