More Thoughts on Stories of Immigration…

after reading Amardeep Singh’s Mimicry and Hybridity in Plain English.

I’m really fascinated by language, so that’s what jumped out at me from this text. The fact that Bhabha needs to be ‘translated’ into ‘plain English’ by another academic is also interesting/yucky for me. Why does Bhabha choose to write in the highly specialized academic register he does here to begin with? This seems pretty problematic to me in a subject area like postcolonial studies, where it is most likely that this type of highly academic and jargony work would be completely inaccessible to most of the subjects of his analysis.  Anyway, here are some additional thoughts on Singh’s post in no particular order:

On language preservation in Indigenous societies in general:

“Language is central to the reclamation of Indigenous law because translation fails us — not only because so much is lost in translation, but also because so much is added. It is nearly impossible for me to use the English term law and not have you immediately form images in your head of what law is. Your understanding of this term is probably rooted in a specific Anglo-cultural history. Whether you form pictures in your mind of lawyers in powdered wigs, or monarchs passing judgement, or of weary Crown prosecutors desperately trying to make it through a stack of files three feet high, the term is inextricably linked to an Anglo–common law tradition which stretches back for centuries. Millennia, if we want to really get to the roots of it…”

“Aside from allowing us to communicate with one another, our languages express our laws and sociopolitical principles. When we lose our language, we can no longer tap into those things that make us a whole culture. We must rely on translations that are inescapably influenced by foreign cultural understandings. We cannot help but experience an erosion of our cultural foundations when we cannot access these principles in their pure form, in our languages and in our territories. On the flip side, even when our traditions and cultures have been eroded, we can use the language to reclaim foundational principles that may have been forgotten or erased on purpose by the overlay of colonially imposed governance in our communities.”

On ‘reclaiming’ languages:


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