JOPOL 1(2019)

Three Steps in Chromatic Abysses: On the Necessity of Studying Colonialism in Late Linguistics

“Thinking about language and colonialism is a serious and challenging task. Notably, it is an obligation of linguistics to think bitterly about itself. Linguistics should not look prematurely at colonialism from the outside, for the discipline itself is interwoven with colonial practices in its orders of knowledge and power structures, as already documented in the canonical works of Calvet (1974) and Errington (2001, 2008). To write about colonialism as a linguist therefore means to face the necessity of abandoning certainties of neutrality and realizing that one is entering a painful field of necessary self-analysis. In 2018, Anne Storch and Ana Deumert opened a new discussion about the COLONIAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF LINGUISTICS; see also Anne Storch’s essential contribution Whose Autobiography? in this issue. This daunting task is indeed about autobiographical work and potentially unpleasant findings about relatives and ancestors, maybe even about something that I would call the disciplinary psyche of a field.”