“New” languages of the state and bilingual education politics

My first set of research and writing studies how educational movements plan for and promote bilingual education and speak and write in Indigenous languages, as well as how government and non-governmental technologies—large-scale exams, standardized writing, and curriculum design—may force Indigenous languages and their speakers to change in the process. A book and several articles examine 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 pueblos and nationalities. Among their remarkable advances has been the recognition and institutionalization of a second national-level school system, intercultural bilingual education, directed by many Kichwa speakers.

This research and writing consider the daily activities and conundrums for those who work in the offices that run the school system, the National Directorate of Intercultural Bilingual Education in Ecuador’s Ministry of Education. It looks at how they promote Indigenous languages as a social movement within the restrictions of upper-level state offices. Ways of communicating in Kichwa, such as standardized Kichwa and particular kinds of greetings, allow them to direct a language revitalization movement from within the Ministry of Education, even as these uses for Kichwa shift much of what people know as Kichwa and may foster disagreements between Kichwa-speaking directors of bilingual education and those whom they represent.

This research has also focused on the promises and challenges around the technologies of Indigenous language reclamation as a means to draw from and contest state institutions, such as literacies, linguistic proficiency exams, and bilingual instruction.