CASCA/IUAES2017 Conference in Ottawa
This panel will consider how members of endangered language communities view their mobility and movement in relation to language, and how revitalization efforts shape experiences and ideologies about the movement of languages.
Language revitalization projects entail not only efforts to move metaphorically movement toward a goal, but also introduce new dynamics of literal movement of people into and out of spaces and places . By considering how language ideologies shape the ways that speakers think of their languages as either mobile or immobile resources, and of themselves as mobile or immobile speaking subjects, we wish to better understand how members of endangered language communities conceptualize their own movement and mobility in relation to language.
Language revitalization programs influence mobility and movement in a variety of ways. How do these projects relate to conditions of diaspora and urbanization? How are spaces and communities dissolved and recreated through this process? How does language intersect with place in the making and remaking of identities in contexts of revitalization? How do people take language into consideration when deciding whether or not to relocate? As language revitalization programs bring new people into communities, what roles do these newcomers then play? How do processes and patterns of movement intersect with efforts to expand domains of language use?
In studying how speakers and their words move, we aim to shed light on what happens to languages and communities as a result of language revitalization. As places are discursively and ideologically connected to different forms of language use, and as speakers reconfigure the boundaries of their communities, these examinations will open up new ways of understanding both language revitalization and experiences of mobility and migration in minority language communities.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Moving minds, static bodies: schools, social mobility, and the territorialization of indigenous languages
This paper considers how the successful implementation of "differentiated Indigenous schools" in Brazil is based in a paradoxical valuation of social mobility as well as territorialized cultural practices, and how this influences revitalization efforts.
The establishment of 'specialized Indigenous schools', located in demarcated Indigenous territories, has been a cornerstone of language and cultural revitalization efforts in Brazil, where recognition of educational, linguistic, and territorial rights have been directly linked, both legally and discursively. In the Northwest Amazon, where such schools have been functioning for nearly 20 years, they are considered a success story of Indigenous activism; efforts to expand them into higher levels of education, including the proposed creation of an "Indigenous university" are ongoing. In this paper, I will examine the implications of this strategy for language and cultural preservation. In particular, I will consider how these schools are situated within discourses about social mobility and access to opportunity, while simultaneously emphasizing their importance for preventing the "rural exodus" of Indigenous people. In addition to the implications of these contradictory forces for students in these schools, I will discuss how they influence efforts to establish school-based Indigenous language initiatives in urban areas.
Names, social media and indigenous languages revival in Northeastern Brazil
We will consider some of the ways Brazilian indigenous peoples are using internet-based social media, focusing on their public profiles and native proper names displayed as diacritical features. We will took this process of self-nomination as a recent ethnolinguistical political commitment example.
Considering Northeast, one of the oldest Brazilian regions where Portuguese colonization took place since the 16th century, we propose to think about contemporary process which are being called, by some indigenous peoples, "ancestral language revival". For the antiquity of European contact in the region and its colonial oppression and violence, most of Northeastern indigenous peoples lost competence in their native languages, speaking Portuguese as first language since then. Although, we observe a recent enterprise by these peoples aiming to revival their linguistic systems, both by building a lexicon from the old people's memories and also by drawing educational projects seeking indigenous school learning.
Then, we will present a contemporary phenomenon observed on social media and indigenous users' public profiles, by which they begin to assume their native proper names rather than their Brazilian ones - native names that they already bear in other contexts like universities, where many of them increasingly study and also teach. We will try to understand how this recent changing could be a display of larger societal projects of language revival, besides a reinforcement of ethnic and community commitments, in local and intra-ethnic as well as national, inter- and extra-ethnic levels. Valorization of native languages in contexts as Brazilian Northeast region, where many of these idioms are no longer commonly spoken, seems to point out a new step to Brazilian indigenous movement, one which takes language as a diacritical feature and public profiles' nomination as mark of difference and ethnicity.
Cash sticks to the cowshed: urbanity/rurality and the maintenance of Sakha language in Yakutsk
This paper examines the mobility of language among Sakha-Russian bilinguals in urban spaces. This is done through investigating how the symbolic notions of urbanity vs. rurality and linguistic hybridity vs. purity play out within the output of young Sakha creatives in the city of Yakutsk.
During the Soviet period, speaking the Sakha language in public spaces in Yakutsk, Russia indexed what was sometimes deemed "ethnic chauvinism" or "natsionalizm" by Russian monolinguals and other non-speakers of Sakha-or, at other times, more simply a sign of undesirable backwardness and the antithesis to Soviet progress. Since the late 1980s, however, there has been a slow but powerful transformation of linguistic ideologies and a resultant increase of Sakha used within urban public spaces. This paper examines the mobility and movement of language among Sakha-Russian bilinguals speakers, shedding light on the factors that help to maintain the Sakha language in the city. Through investigating how the symbolic notions of urbanity vs. rurality and linguistic hybridity vs. linguistic purity play out within the creative output of young Sakha musicians, comedians, and students in the city of Yakutsk, I analyze the sometimes contradictory ideologies, values and attitudes that help to support Sakha linguistic vitality in an urban space still dominated by Russian. I trace the circulation of these creative words, suggesting that these videos—in their words and images—are metaphorical "Third Spaces" (Bhabha 1994), or what Russell (2006, 3) calls "a productive space […] where there is a necessity of blurring of existing boundaries and binaristic identities." This space emerges through the relocalization (Pennycook 2010) of globalized forms with the local Sakha communicative practices and related genres; through this process, meanings of urban Sakha linguistic authenticity, and thus language ideologies and linguistic forms, are negotiated.
Chickasaw language survivance across time and space
This paper examines the survivance of the Chickasaw language through five centuries of relocations, political and social re-configurations, and multiple types of diaspora.
The Chickasaw language has survived against incredible odds, including some of the longest contact with Europeans on the North American continent first encountering the Spanish through deSoto's arrival in 1540; forced removal to Oklahoma from homelands and geographically situated language use in 1830s; the disruption of tribal land holdings through allotment (1893); relocation to urban centers (1956); and throughout, competition with dominant languages such as English, Spanish, French. Yet, the language is still spoken, although in diminishing numbers, today. This paper examines the survivance of the Chickasaw language through five centuries of relocations, political and social re-configurations, and multiple types of diaspora. To do so, I draw on the concept of linguistic survivance (Davis forthcoming) to prioritize narratives of Indigenous and endangered language community survival, ingenuity, and cultural continuity by asking two key questions: How is it even possible that the Chickasaw language has been maintained for as long as it has been? and, What socio-cultural, historical, and political factors have facilitated language maintenance and use?
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.