He is a Professor of Spanish language and Sociolinguistics at the University of Newcastle (United Kingdom) and a member of Linguapax. In recent years, his academic focus has been on the use of music and its integration with new technologies, particularly the appropriation of rap among indigenous youth, as a tool for resistance and a key strategy for linguistic and cultural revitalization.
Digital activism for linguistic revitalization in Latin América: Possibilities and challenges
Digital activism for indigenous and minoritised languages has taken centre stage in the wake of an exponential growth and centrality of digital domains in everyday language use. Language activists are increasingly using digital platforms and, particularly social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, to raise awareness, promote and encourage the learning and practice of minoritised languages (see for instance the outstanding project Rising Voices).
While new technologies have opened up relevant and meaningful spaces and uses among activists for language revalorisation and destigmatisation, there are still open questions about their commensurate impact on actual language revitalisation among the audience and the knock-on effect that these initiatives may have in creating new users both online and offline. The individualistic nature and fragmentation (internet “filter bubbles”) of these efforts and the still elemental understanding of the Indigenous multiple digital practices may also limit the scope of these grassroots efforts. Ethical issues such as the ownership of increasingly widespread data mining for machine translation and other technological tools are gaining prominence. Our case studies will focus on the Latin American region, where several digital initiatives have sprung up with the aim to give indigenous languages a new breathing space. Against this background, our aim is to reflect about and investigate both the possibilities of these digital interventions for language revitalisation but also the barriers and limitations to bring about significant changes in patterns of language abandonment more widely.