Graduation Year

Spring 2014

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis


Foreign Languages

Reader 1

Marina Perez de Mendiola

Reader 2

Fazia Aitel

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© 2014 Isabella Hendry


Many indigenous languages have suffered irreparable damage or even extinction due to the violence of colonization and the violences that continue to be perpetrated by its successor institutions of neo-liberalism and global “development” projects. This thesis focuses on the attempts of two groups of indigenous people, the Imazighen (or Berbers) of Algeria and Morocco and the Runa (or Quechua) of Peru and Bolivia, to break these cycles of repression and revitalize their languages. A close comparison of these two groups’ struggles reveals the difficulty of transcending this assimilationist, imperialist framework, but it also highlights several successes that bode well for future efforts. Through their attempts to introduce indigenous languages into the classroom, and into the public sphere more broadly, these peoples have articulated alternate cosmologies which challenge the biases and assumptions that form the basis of western education. These cosmologies imply a direct challenge to western-occidental notions of modernity and to the institution of the modern nation-state.