Anglophone municipal leaders are worried that the Parti Québécois (PQ) government is destroying linguistic peace according to a March 12 Globe and Mail article by Rhéal Séguin. Since the PQ formed the minority government late last summer, language has been back on the political agenda in a very contentious way. Québec has had its ethno-linguistic battles historically between the Francophone majority and the Anglophone minority (although the language debate has expanded to include other linguistic groups). Through most of the last decade, the language issue seemed to have quieted down. Scholars like Meadwell and Pinard have described the cyclical nature of mobilization, demobilization and remobilization of the nationalist movement (and by consequence, the ebb and flow in the salience of ethno-linguistic politics). There are numerous reasons given about the perennial revitalization of language politics: from labor market competition, to threats to the French language, to political pandering. Whatever the reason this time, it begs the question as to how Anglophones will respond; specifically if they are more likely to resort to disruptive collective action. Continue reading
Tag Archives: language
Fields of Minority Language Activism (Part One)
As part of my ongoing series on minority language advocacy, in this post I continue my discussion by looking at some of the strategic spaces or “fields” targeted by grassroots language activists. In particular, I consider how minority language activists often work in “political” fields so as to influence state-level governance and policies. In my next post, I will consider how minority language activists also often work in “cultural” fields that involve reaching out to “everday” people and community members in ways that entail the orchestration of festive and educational actions.
Social movements working to resist and reverse processes of minority language loss, such as the Basque movement in France and Spain, the Welsh movement in Great Britain, the Ainu movement in Japan or the Navajo movement in the U.S, have emerged in response to enduring legacies of state-based nationalism founded upon the logic of linguistic assimilation. Minority language activists challenge the idea that ethnolinguistic diversity is a social problem that must be contained and suppressed. In building these challenge local-level activists, however, need to target specific domains.
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Notes on the ideological challenges of minority language activism
In this post I continue my discussion of the transnational movement for linguistic rights by exploring some of the big ideological challenges facing minority language activists. As in any social movement context, proponents of linguistic rights and minority language revitalization must engage in a protracted battle of ideas so as to frame their agenda in a manner that generates legitimacy and support in the public sphere. Two of the most salient framing challenges faced by minority language advocates are linked to the utilitarian view of linguistic worth, and the political legacy of linguistic assimilation. Continue reading
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