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Accepted Paper:

Voicing indigenous activism: the digiglot gateway   

Author:

Manuela Burghelea (St Andrews)

Paper short abstract:

This paper considers a year-long citizen media project that combined indigenous language activism, translation, and technology, aimed at sharing stories about language revitalization. It provides insights on strategies in breaching the digital and language divides, engaging with mobile netizens.

Paper long abstract:

As a partner of the UN's International Year of Indigenous Languages 2019, the citizen media network Rising Voices organised a social media campaign intended to address the role of technology and internet in the promotion of indigenous languages. The coordinators of the campaign created the Twitter accounts @ActLenguas, @DigiAfricanLang, @NativeLangsTech, and @AsiaLangsOnline, and invited indigenous language activists to take weekly turns sharing about the status of their language online and offline. Profile blog posts, a newsletter on language revitalization and technology, and their translations into other languages complemented the rotating rosters of language activists.

While the campaign drew forth stories and experiences of digital language activism, this paper will focus on the very campaign as a mobile transformative space. Through which technological tools did its hosts aid the circulatory dimension of the campaign? How did language become one of these tools? What were the languages of choice that the participants used in communicating about their native tongue to the wider audience, and how did these choices impact on the translating, or non-translating, of their posts into further languages? How was this reflected in the flow of exchanges between authors, translators, and readers? By means of digital ethnography, this paper explores technological and linguistical opportunities and challenges highlighted by the participants. Looking at this campaign through a mobilities approach, it shows how online engagement resulted in the wider circulation of the featured stories. In doing so, it contributes to an understanding of how indigenous activism gains momentum online by mobilizing technology.

Panel P063
Everyday mobilities and circulation of people, things and ideas: Expanding the concept of technology from what makes us mobile [ANTHROMOB]