Multilingualism, Indigenous Citizenship and the Politics of Language Revitalization

APR 20, 2017 | 4:30 PM TO 6:30 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue




April 20, 2017: 4:30 PM-6:30 PM




Advanced Research Collaborative


ARC Seminar: Miki Makihara: Multilingualism, Indigenous Citizenship and the Politics of Language Revitalization

The comparative study of recent indigenous language revitalization projects such as Maori, Hawaiian, and Rapa Nui (Easter Island, Chile) offers a useful opportunity for better understanding processes of indigenous identity formation and citizenship in local, national, and global communities. The talk will explore the ways in which the success of language revitalization projects can be linked to the abilities of strong movements to work with and mobilize resources from national and/or transnational entities that they had before approached with criticism or distrust as well as their ability to legitimize and achieve a critical mass of participation for their projects within the indigenous communities in ways that motivate individual speakers and families to invest to change the linguistic ecology of the community. Questions to be explored include: What are the challenges of indigenous language revitalization? While much of the discourse of indigenous movements has been about entitlements and rights, what are the needed capacities and responsibilities of indigenous citizens and communities, in particular in language revitalization projects?

Miki Makihara I have been interested in the use and conception of language and how these relate to other aspects of social life, and in particular, to social identity, intergroup relations, and political and economic changes. My research combines formal linguistic analysis and interpretive ethnography. I am currently working on the “Rapa Nui Cultural and Linguistic Heritage Project,” to explore memory, social change, and language through oral history narratives. This NSF-NEH financed project will also build community resources for the documentation and revitalization of the Rapa Nui language by creating a digital archive of oral history narratives.