Co-Conspiring with land: What decolonizing with Indigenous land and language can teach us

  • Engman, M. (Presenter)
  • Mary Hermes (Presenter)
  • Aíla O'Loughlin (Presenter)
  • Anna Schick (Presenter)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Dominant Western/Northern conceptions of language as an object allow it to be excised from context and held as something static and bounded through its description in grammars and its deployment in various colonial projects. Indigenous epistemologies know language as embedded in a context of relations with bodies, beings, spaces, and time. Writing from perspectives informed by Indigenous epistemologies, language reclamation, and critical literacy, we offer a joint perspective on what it means to see dynamic relationships with animate non-humans and more-than-humans in research with Indigenous languages, land, and identity. We further delve into thinking about relationality by asking, what if language was not bounded by grammatical concepts and instead, by place and space? What perspectives of language emerge from embodied and co-constructed meaning-making with land when land is viewed as an interlocutor, not an object of exploitation?

We offer examples from our recent research project with intergenerational Ojibwe language speakers from Indigenous communities in the Great Lakes region of North America to theorize what happens when an approach to endangered language documentation embodies this shift of epistemology. We write about the colonizing points of thinking about language as we push back against them and look for new iterations of theory that can speak to innovations in the fields of Indigenous reclamation, theories of learning, and applied linguistics. Rethinking “Indigenous language” as interwoven in the context in which the human and more-than-human relationships occur, we consider the possibilities for language and knowledge when co-conspiring with land.
Period28 Jun 2021
Event titleConference of the International Association of Colonial and Postcolonial Linguistics 2021
Event typeConference
LocationCapetown, South Africa
Degree of RecognitionInternational