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Social Justice Through Language Reclamation

The Case of Xinka in Guatemala

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Photo Credit: Rodrigo Ranero

Central America Past and Present Series

Thursday, November 3, 2022
2:00 PM (Pacific Time)UCLA Bunche Hall (Room 10383)
315 Portola Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095

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Xinka is an indigenous language of Guatemala that is distinct from and unrelated to the Mayan languages spoken widely in the region. This talk discusses an effort by members of the Xinka community to reclaim their language—that is, to recover this aspect of their heritage, which had been systematically denied to them. We will argue that the ongoing reclamation process has resulted in greater socio-political recognition for the Xinka people, thus demonstrating that the reawakening of a language can have benefits that go beyond the narrowly linguistic. Throughout the presentation, we will untangle and demystify the role that outsider linguists can have in supporting endeavors of this nature. 


About Rodrigo Ranero

Ranero is a Guatemalan linguist. He is a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA in the American Indian Studies Center. He strives to combine linguistic reclamation and documentation with research on syntax (the study of sentence structure) and phonology (the study of sound patterns), through the lens of understudied languages. He is a firm believer that linguists can use their training to counter linguistic discrimination and concomitant language loss. Since 2012, he has collaborated with Xinka organizations like the Consejo Coordinador del Pueblo Xinka de Guatemala (COPXIG), Cooperativa El Recuerdo, and Museo Xinka. His recent dissertation at the University of Maryland investigates how silence is used in conversation by speakers of different languages, with a focus on Kaqchikel (Mayan). 


Light refreshments will be served

Cost: Free

Special Instructions

Hybrid Event

Download File: Social-Justice-Through-Language-Reclamation-eu-tv3.pdf

Sponsor(s): Latin American Institute, César E. Chávez Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies, Linguistics, Central American Studies Working Group at UCLA, UCLA American Indian Studies Center