Academia in the Time of Cholera: Raising Generation Symbiocene (by Rhonda Chung)

This week’s blog post includes a linked audio file. Just click on the link below if you would like to hear the post read aloud. Scroll down to read the text.

“[L]anguages, like all living things, have to live within environments, to which they must adapt. A language that only survives in the classroom, like a plant that only survives in a flowerpot, or an animal that only survives in the zoo, is a different thing—and in some respects a lesser thing—than one that survives in the wild…as a functioning part of a cultural ecosystem, where chatter, laughter, conversations, stories, songs, and dreams are as continuous as breathing” (Bringhurst, 2002, p. 10).
Continue reading

Landguaging with plants: The Dandelion Project (by Rhonda Chung)

A splash of water. 
A cocoon of dirt. 
That spark of germination that sets us afoot.   

Spiraling through the ground. 
Arms unfolding wide. 
Legs tunneling through the dark of time.   

Rooting in place. 
Drinking the sun. 
Plants teach us just how wild we can become. 

The language of plants has been capturing our imaginations since we first evolved onto land. Rocks are our 3-billion-year-old ancestors, moving in a time and space that is inconceivable to our 200-thousand-year-old imaginations. Plants are our second oldest teachers, outpacing us by 500 million years.

Continue reading

From Terra Nullius to Paradise: Landguaging the Caribbean (by Rhonda Chung)

This post was written on the territory of the Taíno, the Indigenous peoples that Columbus encountered when he landed in the region in 1492. The Taíno have stewarded the islands of the Greater Antilles, now colonially named: Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, and Puerto Rico, and are descended from the Arawaks who live on the mainland of northern Abya Yala (South America) in countries now known as: Guyana, Venezuela, and Colombia. This highly mobile group have given the English language words like: canoe (canoa), hurricane (hurakán), tobacco (tabako), maize (mahis), iguana (iwana), barbecue (barabicu), and hammock (hamacas). As Curet (2010) explains, the Taíno are often contrasted with a rival tribe in the Lesser Antilles: the Kalinago or Caribes, for which the Caribbean is named.

It has been a common belief that Indigenous people in the Caribbean islands either became extinct because of colonial wars and European disease, or were fully assimilated into the population; however, this is untrue. While their numbers are certainly lower than before contact, Indigenous peoples are still very much alive in the Caribbean. For example, the Garifuna are mixed Kalinago-Taíno/West African people living in regions like St. Vincent and Honduras. The Taíno people number 2,000 in the 3 million population of Jamaica, and are currently advocating that their rights and culture be constitutionally protected.

Continue reading

The art of Landguaging across borders: Land-sensitive curriculum for imperial language teachers (by Rhonda Chung) 

Since 1492, any European-based language thriving outside of its territory of origin is likely the consequence of some form of imperialism. How long linguistic occupation lasts outside that mother colony depends on how willing those settlers are to continue to toe the imperial line. When will enough be enough?

In the settler colonial territory currently named Canada, French began its long-term linguistic occupation of Turtle Island (North America) in 1608, making its way downwards into the islands of the Antilles, all the way to Abya Yala (South America).

Continue reading

Part 2 — Plants Are Our Second Oldest Teachers (by Rhonda Chung)

This blog post includes a linked audio file. Just click on the link below if you would like to hear the post read aloud. Scroll down to read the text.

In “Land as Pedagogy” (Simpson, 2014), young Kwezens watches Ajidamoo perched above her, nibbling on a branch of Ninaatigoog. Upon returning home, Kwezens recounts the interaction with her mother, who then tells the aunties to gather round the Ninaatigoog the following day. Kwezens shows her community how to tap the tree for sap, modelling the knowledge she observed from the small tree-dwelling mammal. 

In Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg epistemologies, Simpson explains, knowledge comes directly from relationships with the environment, which flow in non-linear ways from the young to the old and from non-human beings to humans; hierarchical ways of thinking are not useful in ecological relationships.
Continue reading