Aboriginal languages reclamation: countering the neo-colonial onslaught

Kevin Lowe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution


The level of Aboriginal community responses to the ongoing issue of language loss can be considered an indication of Aboriginal people’s growing assertion of their right to maintain their unique linguistic and cultural identities and heritage. Governments have long been accused of paying lip service to Aboriginal aspirations for languages reclamation while they have sought to justify the establishment of such programs in order to continue the longer term colonial project of cultural and linguistic assimilation. However, while many language workers are tied by grants to the very agencies that hold such views, their work is clearly drawn from a different space. Through their agency, work on the reclamation of these languages has had a significant impact on the wider Aboriginal community’s aspirations for the reclamation and use of their languages. This effort has had the impact of critically repositioning the legitimacy of these aspirations, and places this activity in a political and moral space in which Aboriginal language advocates and communities challenge the view that they and their languages are linguistic and cultural artefacts that have little use or purpose in a postcolonial environment. This paper argues that community agency in this matter is a part of a larger project of Aboriginal resistance to the postcolonial environment in which they have been positioned as an ethnic minority within their own Country.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIndigenous education
Subtitle of host publicationpathways to success : conference proceedings
Place of PublicationCamberwell, VIC
PublisherAustralian Council for Educational Research
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9781742860473
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventACER Research Conference (16th : 2011) - Darwin
Duration: 7 Aug 20119 Aug 2011


ConferenceACER Research Conference (16th : 2011)


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