Thoughts on Decolonial Doc Work

Hey y’all, I posted this link about Decolonizing Language Documentation
There’s a link to a poem but I’ll just link the full one here. I’d really appreciate if y’all would read it.
And I wrote some words about it (didn’t brush it up after posting on fb, so forgive anything that seems out of place):
These are important concepts to consider as many lament the inability to do documentation work. I think many of my friends and colleagues want to work in the most decolonial way possible, and that must involve considering the voices of people we work with and other people’s perspectives from around the world. This isn’t to say “prioritize the voices of people outside the community,” rather the message I would like to consider is how we can do the try to decolonize our work by learning about the ways others want it to be done; to get ideas from others, etc.
I am a force of necolonial ideology in India, as a member of my Brahmin family who, while diverse, are all in majority cultural groups which are not scheduled; and I want to learn how to grow from recognizing that. Furthermore, as an American from an upper middle class economic background, I am only beginning to realize what I can do to mobilize my privilege and covert power. I don’t often offer up Facebook posts for discussion—I normally stick to linguistics groups and every so often share things that don’t engage an audience. But I really want to know how my peers view these issues, as many of them come from different backgrounds with different privileges.
NB: Discourse about privilege as I see it is not a battle to see who has the most or least; it’s framework for recognizing how our backgrounds and statuses affect our perspectives and, more importantly, our opportunities.
(Insomnia and an anthology I’m reading, “Poems from the Edge of Extinction” have me getting all thinky)


Thanks @sunny for posting this link. I also saw it floating around Facebook and it made me pause as well.

Some 6am thoughts below:

I think that current events have forced many of us to slow down and reconsider the ways “we have always done things” and ask ourselves either (1) how can we keep doing things as we did before or (2) how can we take this momentary break to dismantle the harmful structures of our activities and build something new.
@msatokotsubi 's recent podcast with Jeff Good was an excellent example, I think, of a linguist who is sacrificing what is easy/pleasurable for what is right by supporting community-based and community-initiated work while he administrates from home.
I hope that many of us are doing/would do the same thing. However, not all of us have the funds, flexibility, or job security to recreate a productive fieldsite without ourselves in it. I also fear that the distance this pandemic forces between communities reduces us all to words and faces on a screen. There’s a loss of humanity there which affects people’s decisions. Sharing poems, though, like the one you shared brings back some of that humanity. Thanks for sharing it.


Another resource relevant to this discussion is the Linguistics in the Pub link that @cbowern added, there were some additional thoughtful comments about decolonialization and fieldwork there.


Damn. That’s really important what you shared. Thank you.

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