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Language and Indigenous Community Well-being

How can language empower Indigenous communities?
From Australia, to Pakistan, to the Phillipines, this talk will examine the ways in which language plays a role in Indigenous community wellbeing.

Drawing on our experiences as members, activists, and academics of Indigenous communities from different parts of the world, we will discuss how language plays a role in Indigenous community wellbeing. Looking at experiences of language revival and maintenance Australia; MTBMLE implementation in the Philippines; developing Torwali education programs & practice in Swat, Pakistan; and economic opportunities of people using their indigenous languages in Malaysia, the panellists will highlight problems and possibilities in empowering Indigenous language as a means of empowering Indigenous communities.

This event was held at the University of Sydney on Thursday 26 July 2018. There is no podcast for this event.

The Speakers:

  • Ahmar Mahboob is Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Sydney. His research interests include a focus on issues such as educational linguistics, language variation, politics of language, and the use of language arts and sciences to empower Indigenous communities.

  • Shirley N. Dita is Associate Professor in Applied Linguistics at De La Salle University, the Philippines. Over the years, Shirley has been involved in the corpus building and documentation of various Philippine languages. She works closely with her PhD students in documenting and revitalizing indigenous languages in the country and is a strong advocate of the Mother Tongue Based – Multilingual Education (MTBMLE). She is currently doing a project on revitalizing the oral language traditions and cultural practices of some indigenous Philippine languages. Shirley also spent a month in the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa and visited various indigenous communities in the country.

  • Jakelin Troy is a Ngarigu woman from the Snowy Mountains of SE Australia and the Director of Indigenous Research at the University of Sydney. Jaklin wrote the Australian Curriculum Languages: Framework for Aboriginal Languages & Torres Strait Islander Languages.

  • Michael Walsh (moderator) began fieldwork on Australian Indigenous Languages in 1972. For the last 20 years he has been involved in the revival of Australian Languages, particularly in the south-east. At present he is part of a National Health & Medical Research Council project studying the reclamation of Barngarla (west of Adelaide) and its effect on wellbeing and health, particularly mental health.


This event is supported by the Sydney Social Sciences and Humanities Advanced Research Centre (SSSHARC)

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