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December 7, 2016
Canadian Excellence


Office of Aboriginal Initiatives

WATERLOO CAMPUS: Positive Identification: Online Indigenous Language Reclaimation and Affect

Aboriginal Awareness Week
Mar 4/13


Date: Mar 4/13
Time: 10:00 - 11:30
Location: Aboriginal Student Centre, Waterloo Campus, 187 Albert Street
Cost: -

Jo-Anne Muise Lawless, Masters Student in the Cultural Analysis and Social Theory program presents

Positive Identification: Online Indigenous Language Reclaimation and Affect

Aboriginal language is intrinsic to identity, say Sapir and Whorf[i], and, consequently, Indigenous communities across the globe are making efforts to revitalize and in some instances rebuild the languages that have been interrupted by colonialism. Two such initiatives are being actively pursued by the Six Nations Haudenosaunee in Ontario and New York, and by Mi'kmaq from Listuguj, in the Gespe’g territory in Nova Scotia, through online education, interactive websites and through social media. Each of these communities approaches online language revitalization from a different perspective, which is dependent upon its own post-colonial experience, and, of course, upon its historical identity. The concept of Indigenous language reclamation using online technologies has been addressed by scholars from various disciplinary perspectives; for instance, through the lenses of education, history, and economics. This paper examines the issue from a philosophical viewpoint, and considers how affect theory plays a role in Indigenous language revitalization via the Internet; in particular, through an exploration and comparison of the Haudenosaunee and Mi'kmaq communities, who differ significantly in the vision they hold for a society whose language has been revitalized. Specifically, I will illustrate that, despite the purported nature of computer technology as isolating, this same technology promotes the positive affective movement of Aboriginal reinvention as community. I argue that the emotions generated by this online social exchange reinforce positive feelings of reward and solidarity, thus advancing each community’s mission. I will explore, as well, the effects of online, as opposed to in-person, language learning from an Aboriginal perspective, in order to demonstrate the affective potential of each.

[i] Hoijer, Harry. "The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis." Language in culture (1954): 92-105.

This workshop is a part of the 2013 Aboriginal Awareness Week Events

Contact: Melissa Ireland
Phone: 519-884-1970 ext 4190

View all Office of Aboriginal Initiatives events