Halq'eméylem Language Revitalization: Tracing Ideologies in Hybridity

By: Sonya Rao '13

Advising Faculty: Anthony Graesch

Recently, Indigenous language revitalization has gained attention from Western media and charitable organizations, a process that has depoliticized the history of Indigenous languages. One result of this is the naturalization of the ideological projects that put native languages at risk, as well as the practices that hinder their revival. Rao’s thesis examines how the scientific and intellectual project of linguistics can dispossess elements of native languages from its speakers, using it as capital for its own objectives. Using data derived from ethnographic research in southwestern British Columbia, Canada, she explores how the history of speech communities shapes the language ideologies that inform choices in the revitalization process, the restraints under which revivalists operate, their potential for success, moments of hybridity in communal beliefs and the transformation of language into capital.

Related Fields: Anthropology