Master’s in Linguistics from the University of Los Andes (Venezuela) and Ph.D. in Linguistics from Ruhr-Universität Bochum (Germany), where he currently works as a professor and researcher. His research interests include border areas, linguistic ideologies, and multilingualism, from a critical sociolinguistic perspective.
Between language loss and retrieval: The challenges of the Pemón people along the Venzuela-Brazil border
The socio-cultural scenario of contact, which began at least a century ago, between the indigenous Pemón people (ancestral inhabitants of the Gran Sabana) and non-indigenous members of Venezuelan national society, has been organized based on a principle of difference and inequality that also incorporated linguistic notions. The Taurepán, a regional subgroup that, along with the Arekuna and Kamarakoto, constitute the Pemón people (an ethnicity of the Carib family), inhabit the vicinity of the current border between Venezuela and Brazil, and have been the most affected by processes of borderization and nationalization that favored transculturation and the functional displacement of the native language.
Based on ethnographic data collected in 2017, both in the Pemón community of Manak-Krü and in the nearby border town of Santa Elena de Uairén, this presentation will discuss the value of the Pemón (Taurepán) in this border area, approaching the ideological perspectives of indigenous and criollo (or non-indigenous) participants regarding the current situation of the native language in the region. In this sense, I highlight the dichotomy of loss-retrieval as the quintessential explanatory notion, as well as its different nuances and connections with historical and contemporary processes that have affected the fate of the Pemón language in the community and the region. These processes pose a series of challenges concerning the defense of indigenous rights and the conservation of linguistic diversity in the area.