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Decolonial Gestures: A Study on Quechua-Spanish Bilingualism


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Decolonial Gestures: A Photovoice Study on Quechua-Spanish Bilingualism
A talk by Yuliana Kenfield (UNM LLSS)

Location: HUM 134
Interpreter provided upon request

This study employed a participatory method, photovoice, to explore Quechua-Spanish bilingual practices and ideologies of college students in Cusco, and promote critical dialogues to challenge ideologies that have held back the maintenance/revitalization of the Quechua language in higher education. University policies in Cusco promote inclusion of indigenous knowledge and practices, yet bilingual Spanish-Quechua practices on campuses have remained largely symbolic.
Photovoice is a visual method developed by Wang and Burris in 1994 wherein community members being studied are active participants in the research. For six months, this investigator and community participants collaborated. Drawing from decolonial and poststructuralist perspectives on language ideologies. I particularly, used the concepts of chi’xi (decolonial gesture) presented by Rivera Cusicanqui (2017) and the analytics of decoloniality (Maldonado-Torres, 2016) to analyze how bilingual Quechua-Spanish ideologies and practices are learned, unlearned, and enacted.
I found that participants contributed to community critical awareness of Quechua-Spanish bilingual ideologies in Cusco when presenting their visual metaphors during photo exhibitions .Students not only shared their experiences as bilingual students facing barriers to maintaining their Quechua language, but shared their proposals (based in their unlearned, relearned, and learned ideologies) for helping their university create more opportunities for using Quechua in college. Their proposals included, at both individual and community levels, framing policies and building partnerships with organizations within in the university.
Further, the implementation of this participatory approach gave greater decision-making power to the college students about their Quechua-Spanish intercultural practices and recognized their saberes-haceres “experiential knowledges” which reconfigured the photovoice study process.