Accepted Paper:

Language survivance: holding (onto) your tongue in times of war  
Gerald Roche (La Trobe University)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation explores how language movements work in extremely hostile environments.

Paper long abstract:

How do communities maintain languages under extreme conditions? Recent research on language movements has identified several factors that help communities to maintain and revitalize languages, including: non-assimilatory policy frameworks, economic empowerment, self-determination, and the capacity to form and participate in trans-local support networks. But what happens when all of these are absent? Can language movements take place without such broader contextual support? To explore these questions, this presentation will examine language maintenance in conditions of war: not in the sense of military violence, but in the Hobbesian sense employed by philosopher Ann Cudd, of continuous, inescapable insecurity. In terms of language, a community faces conditions of war when the language ecology is perpetually hostile to the language's survival, and all avenues for organization in its defense are blocked. Under such circumstances, language movements must focus on survivance, a term coined by Anishnaabe scholar Gerald Vizenor to refer to "an active sense of presence," which may involve radical change in order to resist erasure. This presentation will describe a case study of language survivance under conditions of war by drawing on research conducted on the northeast Tibetan Plateau with speakers of the Manegacha language, a population facing conditions of war generated by their position at the frontlines of a globalized symbolic conflict between the Chinese state and Tibetan nation.

Panel P33
Language movements: endangerment, revitalisation, and social transformation