Translanguaging as decolonial praxis

Pedagogic and epistemic thrusts in the politics of official knowledge

Authors

  • Desmond I Odugu Lake Forest College

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/jmtp.21483

Keywords:

translanguaging, online learning, decolonial, language, higher education, decolonial praxis

Abstract

Epistemic ruptures in normative conceptualisations of language bring into sharper focus the absurdities of education in entrenched linguistic and disciplinary regimentations. At a time when neoliberal forces push educational processes farther from traditional disciplinary arrangements and towards nuclear marketisation of knowledge and processes of knowledge production, the convergence of epidemiological and social crises occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic forces educators to recalibrate pedagogical structures that have guided schooling processes for decades. Drawing insights from two emergency remote courses, this article examines the pedagogical and conceptual thrusts of translanguaging in US higher education. It outlines specific ways in which the institutional formations of knowledge – its (re)production, structuration and transaction – undercut the logic and political potency of translanguaging. Specifically, it locates translanguaging within a broader constructionist linguistic ontologism, which now provides conceptual tools for readjusting the epistemic aperture through which new cultural attitudes to knowledge – and to education – can materialise institutional transformations towards what Lewis Gordon (2021) calls ‘teleological suspension’. While public consciousness remains inured to the presumed cultural neutrality and political benignity of schooling as pervasive social practice, this study contends that it is precisely in the ubiquitous subtleties of institutional formations that the politics of official knowledge exercises most effectively its technologies of cultural control, and of exploitation. As such, the epistemic shifts which translanguaging and similar expressions of constructionist linguistic ontology invite extend far beyond language policy changes and point to radical social transformations.

Author Biography

Desmond I Odugu, Lake Forest College

Desmond Ikenna Odugu is Associate Professor of Education at Lake Forest College. His research explores linguistic practices, education and social change in the Global South, with fieldwork in several African countries and India. He also has active research on race, space and the educational and social experiences of people of African descent in the United States, with a pioneering digital humanities online archive on racial restrictive covenants in the Chicagoland area. He currently serves as Director of the Humanities 2020 Project, an initiative funded by the Mellon Foundation to engage with issues of racism in the Chicagoland area.

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Published

2022-05-10

How to Cite

Odugu, D. I. (2022). Translanguaging as decolonial praxis: Pedagogic and epistemic thrusts in the politics of official knowledge. Journal of Multilingual Theories and Practices, 3(1), 27–52. https://doi.org/10.1558/jmtp.21483

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