My first research project examines the politics of Indigenous languages in an era of state-sponsored multiculturalism in Ecuador, interculturalidad (interculturality). Ecuador is internationally known for successful organizing by indigenous individuals. Among their achievements has been the institutionalization of a national-level school system, headed by many Kichwa-speakers. My forthcoming book, and most of my published articles, consider how those who work in the offices that run the school system, the National Directorate of Intercultural Bilingual Education, promote indigenous languages as a social movement within the restrictions of upper-level state offices. I show how particular ways of speaking in Kichwa attempt to remedy the difficulties of running a language revitalization movement from within the Ministry of Education, even as they create divides between Kichwa-speaking directors of bilingual education and those whom they represent. My manuscript draws from more two consecutive years of ethnographic research with funding from a National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship, a Wenner-Gren Foundation Dissertation Fieldwork Grant, and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Other foci of my research include promises and challenges around the technologies of Indigenous language reclamation and how they draw from and contest state institutions. My work especially looks at literacies, linguistic proficiency exams, and language teaching.
I am currently engaged in research for a second book based on long-term collaborative ethnographic research with an intercultural bilingual school in Ecuador. This research examines one school’s Kichwa-speaking teachers’ activism that seeks a contrastive curriculum and organization, even as the school constitutes a part of Ecuador’s intercultural bilingual school system that is directed by Indigenous planners for Indigenous students. I’m studying how teachers work for and against the school system to which they belong as they seek a different form of schooling, and how teachers’ expertise may respond to the philosophies, actions, and life circumstances of parents and students. These teachers provide insight into the daily negotiations and contestations that accompany critiques of predominant discourses as colonial forms of knowledge, in this case based on insider cultural perspectives and years of professional experience.