Indigenous Speaker Series: On Re-Languaging: From Documentation to Decolonization

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Lecture Abstract:

What does it mean to “re-language”?  I offer this term as a proposal and an approach toward change within and across disciplinary fields that investigate linguistic form and practice holistically.  To exemplify re-languaging as a process for addressing marginalization, I reconsider previous fieldwork in three parts: language documentation, language and cultural revitalization, and language in media.  I show that re-languaging happens whether or not we recognize it in the moment through the non-conforming voices, perspectives and linguistic forms that are often the “noise” in a dataset.  It also occurs in relation to the narratives and relationships to people and land that are part of revitalization efforts and expression of Indigenous self-determination.  Additionally, re-languaging addresses the call to “decolonize” the academy by recognizing the limits of decolonization in settler-colonial contexts.  In tandem with reflexive research and collaboration, re-languaging confronts the marginalizing effects of a settler-colonial, “Western” gaze.

Speaker Bio:

Barbra A. Meek is a citizen of the Comanche Nation, professor of anthropology and linguistics, and associate dean for the social sciences at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  She received her PhD in the joint program for Anthropology and Linguistics from the University of Arizona (2001). Her research spans child language socialization, Athabaskan sociolinguistics, language revitalization, and ethno-racial semiotics of Hollywood media.  She currently chairs a task force for the American Anthropological Association charged with addressing the enduring residue of settler-colonialism in Anthropology’s approaches to research with, and defining of, Native American communities.

The Indigenous Speaker Series is presented by Memorial University Department of Anthropology in partnership with The Rooms.

Location: The Rooms Theatre

Date and Time: Wednesday, Apr 24th at 07:00 PM - 09:00 PM (NDT)