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Contesting Extinction: Toward a Praxis of Language Reclamation

Wednesday, March 4, 2020
1:00 pm
Miami Art Museum

Wesley Leonard will give the closing keynote address for the symposium, “Approaching Extinction, Contesting Extinction.”

Recent studies indicate that a mass species extinction is well underway on our planet. Wildlife populations have decreased by 60% in the last few decades and 70% of agricultural diversity has disappeared. By investigating entanglements between life extinction and political imagination as well as social drivers and cultural dimensions of extinction, we hope to generate strategies for countering or mobilizing fears about death and extinction and enabling collective response and action.

Professor Leonard received his Ph.D. in Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley. His research examines various social factors that are intertwined with Native American language endangerment, documentation, and reclamation. A citizen of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, he focuses in particular on the reclamation of his tribal nation's language, myaamia, which was once mistermed "extinct" but is actually widely used among Miami people. He is especially interested in building capacity for Native American languages in ways that support tribal sovereignty and survivance, and has developed a number of workshops on culturally appropriate application of the analytical tools of Linguistics for language reclamation purposes. His research has appeared in scholarly outlets including the American Indian Culture and Research Journal, Gender and Language, and Language Documentation & Conservation.

There will also be the opportunity to view the Myaamia Ribbonwork Exhibition.

Wesley Leonard
Wesley Leonard
Assistant Professor, University of California - Riverside