Objectives at the crossroads: Critical theory and self-determination in indigenous language revitalization

Nathan John Albury

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Indigenous language revitalization is a popular focus of critical theorists. From the perspective of sociolinguists, critical theory interrogates language policies to name and shame inequalities and propose solutions to correct injustices and emancipate the disadvantaged. From a broader perspective, language revitalization policy also resides within national and international political agendas for the restoration of indigenous self-determination, including not just language, but also indigenous cultures, governance, and philosophies in the wake of imperialist oppression of native peoples. However, in terms of indigenous language revitalization specifically, are self-determination and the objectives of critical theory one and the same? This article considers this question and suggests that the emancipatory goals of critical theory are not necessarily synonymous with self-determination. Instead, language policies that support self-determination may conversely impede language revitalization processes by creating onerous demands on indigenous individuals who might instead conceptualize their own linguistic emancipation in ways self-determination does not.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256-282
Number of pages27
JournalCritical Inquiry in Language Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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