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Indigenous Mexican immigrants and the politics of language shift

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Abstract:

Many indigenous Mexicans migrate to the United States seeking greater opportunities for their families. However, language plays a vital role in achieving the socio-economic mobility they seek. Because both Mexico and the U.S. generally participate in a “one language, one nation” framework, and because their predominant languages wield significant socio-economic and political power, indigenous Mexican migrant parents often find themselves in a difficult position, having to make critical decisions regarding their children’s linguistic future. Utilizing the literature on language and identity and critical theory as a theoretical frame, our research seeks to better understand the unofficial language policies that these communities implement and what motivates the decision to participate in generational language “shift.” Our ethnographic case study captures a small vignette that depicts the difficult linguistic decisions that Indigenous Mexican immigrant families face and highlights the possibilities for encouraging indigenous language preservation through bilingual programming.
Though our research is ongoing, our preliminary findings suggest that the parent participants in our study tend to sacrifice their indigenous language(s) to ensure the economic advancement of their families. Because the parents see language as a clear marker of identity, and because they are acutely aware of the political, social and economic stratification related to identity, they use language as a tool to “reinvent” their own identities through their children, thereby elevating the social status of their families for future generations. Ultimately, this rationalization has led parents not to pass their indigenous language(s) onto their children, but instead, to encourage the acquisition of English and Spanish only. In our presentation, we will outline what factors contributed to this decision, what values underpin them and offer some recommendations for supporting these indigenous Mexican families through bilingual education.
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Name: 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society
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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p492589_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Kelley, Prema. and Menchaca Bishop, Laura. "Indigenous Mexican immigrants and the politics of language shift" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Apr 30, 2011 <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p492589_index.html>

APA Citation:

Kelley, P. and Menchaca Bishop, L. , 2011-04-30 "Indigenous Mexican immigrants and the politics of language shift" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, Quebec, Canada <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p492589_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Many indigenous Mexicans migrate to the United States seeking greater opportunities for their families. However, language plays a vital role in achieving the socio-economic mobility they seek. Because both Mexico and the U.S. generally participate in a “one language, one nation” framework, and because their predominant languages wield significant socio-economic and political power, indigenous Mexican migrant parents often find themselves in a difficult position, having to make critical decisions regarding their children’s linguistic future. Utilizing the literature on language and identity and critical theory as a theoretical frame, our research seeks to better understand the unofficial language policies that these communities implement and what motivates the decision to participate in generational language “shift.” Our ethnographic case study captures a small vignette that depicts the difficult linguistic decisions that Indigenous Mexican immigrant families face and highlights the possibilities for encouraging indigenous language preservation through bilingual programming.
Though our research is ongoing, our preliminary findings suggest that the parent participants in our study tend to sacrifice their indigenous language(s) to ensure the economic advancement of their families. Because the parents see language as a clear marker of identity, and because they are acutely aware of the political, social and economic stratification related to identity, they use language as a tool to “reinvent” their own identities through their children, thereby elevating the social status of their families for future generations. Ultimately, this rationalization has led parents not to pass their indigenous language(s) onto their children, but instead, to encourage the acquisition of English and Spanish only. In our presentation, we will outline what factors contributed to this decision, what values underpin them and offer some recommendations for supporting these indigenous Mexican families through bilingual education.


Similar Titles:
Political Incorporation of Mexican Immigrants in New York City and Los Angeles An Examination of Non-Electoral Politics

Relations amongst Mexican Immigrants and Indigenous Mexican Immigrants Perpetuate Mexican Social Hierarchy in the U.S.


 
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