Language and human rights discourses in Africa: Lessons from the African experience

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In this article, we investigate the question of who benefits from language minority research by analyzing the discourses of language rights and human rights jointly, because language rights are perforce part of human rights. We argue that some 'small' minority languages flourish and others fail unless speakers of these languages articulate their voices and needs. We also explore how human rights discourses relate to traditional practices. The interests of local communities and the involvement of linguists do not enhance the status of minority communities unless linguists traverse the gap between academic discourses on rights and vernacular discourses on similar topics. African linguists are themselves in a double bind: on the one hand, they seek to promote the interests of local communities and, on the other hand, they have to meet their professional obligations. They are not able to address the material needs of local communities because advocating language and human rights cannot resolve Africa's intractable problems. In addition, epistemologically, African scholarship is not sufficiently contextualized to be relevant to complex, labile, and polyvalent contexts. The defining epistemological trope contributing to the crises in African scholarship on rights and other sociolinguistic topics is 'theoretical extraversion': African linguists construe their professional work as a space to test Western constructs rather than to develop endogenous knowledge practices, a situation that is difficult to overcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Multicultural Discourses
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

Fingerprint

human rights
discourse
language
experience
minority
community
sociolinguistics
obligation

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language

Cite this

@article{03004599af874856afe09d19be13a92f,
title = "Language and human rights discourses in Africa: Lessons from the African experience",
abstract = "In this article, we investigate the question of who benefits from language minority research by analyzing the discourses of language rights and human rights jointly, because language rights are perforce part of human rights. We argue that some 'small' minority languages flourish and others fail unless speakers of these languages articulate their voices and needs. We also explore how human rights discourses relate to traditional practices. The interests of local communities and the involvement of linguists do not enhance the status of minority communities unless linguists traverse the gap between academic discourses on rights and vernacular discourses on similar topics. African linguists are themselves in a double bind: on the one hand, they seek to promote the interests of local communities and, on the other hand, they have to meet their professional obligations. They are not able to address the material needs of local communities because advocating language and human rights cannot resolve Africa's intractable problems. In addition, epistemologically, African scholarship is not sufficiently contextualized to be relevant to complex, labile, and polyvalent contexts. The defining epistemological trope contributing to the crises in African scholarship on rights and other sociolinguistic topics is 'theoretical extraversion': African linguists construe their professional work as a space to test Western constructs rather than to develop endogenous knowledge practices, a situation that is difficult to overcome.",
author = "Makoni, {Sinfree Bullock}",
year = "2012",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1080/17447143.2011.595493",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "7",
pages = "1--20",
journal = "Journal of Multicultural Discourses",
issn = "1744-7143",
publisher = "Routledge",
number = "1",

}

Language and human rights discourses in Africa : Lessons from the African experience. / Makoni, Sinfree Bullock.

In: Journal of Multicultural Discourses, Vol. 7, No. 1, 01.01.2012, p. 1-20.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Language and human rights discourses in Africa

T2 - Lessons from the African experience

AU - Makoni, Sinfree Bullock

PY - 2012/1/1

Y1 - 2012/1/1

N2 - In this article, we investigate the question of who benefits from language minority research by analyzing the discourses of language rights and human rights jointly, because language rights are perforce part of human rights. We argue that some 'small' minority languages flourish and others fail unless speakers of these languages articulate their voices and needs. We also explore how human rights discourses relate to traditional practices. The interests of local communities and the involvement of linguists do not enhance the status of minority communities unless linguists traverse the gap between academic discourses on rights and vernacular discourses on similar topics. African linguists are themselves in a double bind: on the one hand, they seek to promote the interests of local communities and, on the other hand, they have to meet their professional obligations. They are not able to address the material needs of local communities because advocating language and human rights cannot resolve Africa's intractable problems. In addition, epistemologically, African scholarship is not sufficiently contextualized to be relevant to complex, labile, and polyvalent contexts. The defining epistemological trope contributing to the crises in African scholarship on rights and other sociolinguistic topics is 'theoretical extraversion': African linguists construe their professional work as a space to test Western constructs rather than to develop endogenous knowledge practices, a situation that is difficult to overcome.

AB - In this article, we investigate the question of who benefits from language minority research by analyzing the discourses of language rights and human rights jointly, because language rights are perforce part of human rights. We argue that some 'small' minority languages flourish and others fail unless speakers of these languages articulate their voices and needs. We also explore how human rights discourses relate to traditional practices. The interests of local communities and the involvement of linguists do not enhance the status of minority communities unless linguists traverse the gap between academic discourses on rights and vernacular discourses on similar topics. African linguists are themselves in a double bind: on the one hand, they seek to promote the interests of local communities and, on the other hand, they have to meet their professional obligations. They are not able to address the material needs of local communities because advocating language and human rights cannot resolve Africa's intractable problems. In addition, epistemologically, African scholarship is not sufficiently contextualized to be relevant to complex, labile, and polyvalent contexts. The defining epistemological trope contributing to the crises in African scholarship on rights and other sociolinguistic topics is 'theoretical extraversion': African linguists construe their professional work as a space to test Western constructs rather than to develop endogenous knowledge practices, a situation that is difficult to overcome.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84858776793&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84858776793&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1080/17447143.2011.595493

DO - 10.1080/17447143.2011.595493

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84858776793

VL - 7

SP - 1

EP - 20

JO - Journal of Multicultural Discourses

JF - Journal of Multicultural Discourses

SN - 1744-7143

IS - 1

ER -