By Ben Zabback, Grace Rigsbee, and Melanie Bowden

Follow this link to listen to Language Angles and Colonial Clashes.

This podcast explores the role of language on colonization, and more specifically, how colonizers used language as a tool to control their subjects. Speaking a different language meant perceiving reality differently, so this was an obstacle colonizers had to tackle in order to accomplish their goals of attaining power and influence over new territories and people. By drawing on both fictional and theoretical postcolonial texts, we explore how colonizers accomplished their mission: by Othering the people they sought to dominate, as well as challenging colonized subjects’ languages and cultures. In this podcast, we examine these methods of exerting control through a number of examples that span various colonies at various times in the history of colonialism, including cases from Ireland, Nigeria, Kenya, and more.

This podcast draws from several works, including the following books: Brian Friel’s Translations, Jamaica Kincade’s A Small Place, and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. It also draws on postcolonial theoretical texts such as Edward Said’s Orientalism, Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, and Homi Bhaba’s The Location of Culture. Finally this podcast incorporates published academic research, including Derek Peterson’s “Colonizing Language? Missionaries and Gikuyu Dictionaries”, Simon Constantine’s “Phrasebooks and the Shaping of Conduct in Colonial Africa ca. 1884–1914”, and Diarmait Mac Giolla Chríost’s and John Aitchison’s “Ethnic Identities and Language in Northern Ireland.”

*The image depicts two people struggling to communicate and the confusion associated with it. The image was created by Ben Zabback.


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