Can languages be saved? Linguistic heritage and the moving archive

Sonia Matos

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract / Description of output

Drawing on Wolfgang Ernst’s critique of the classical notion of the archive as a contained and genuine ‘object’ through which we can transmit complex temporal experiences, this contribution will present and discuss the questions that have instigated a design-led research project and the design of learning materials for the Silbo Gomero – an endangered form of language still alive in the small island of La Gomera, in the Canarian Archipelago. Looking specifically at the unique perceptual and interconnected materialities afforded by digital mediums, this contribution will question the idea of preservation and the archival traditions that support the protection of endangered languages. Taking here language as an emblematic example of a living and moving archive, this contribution will draw on the importance of understanding the concept of heritage as one that is constantly disrupted by both temporal and spatial phenomena. Drawing on the digital appropriation of the Silbo Gomero’s ecology, this contribution will suggest that a linguist archive should open space for ambiguity and change. In this light, memory, tradition, and heritage, cannot be preserved but only rematerialized, renegotiate and reinvented. A process that resonates with an understanding of ‘culture’ as a largely performative act whereby processes of identification (as opposed to identity) result from an interaction with complex networks. A process that constantly reminds us that a language archive cannot start and end in a contained and static object but rather has to take over the life of an event.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMemory in Motion
Subtitle of host publicationArchives, Technology and the Social
EditorsIna Blom, Trond Lundemo, Eivind Røssaak
PublisherAmsterdam University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9789048532063
ISBN (Print)9789462982147
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

PublisherAmsterdam University Press


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    Sonia Matos (Invited speaker)

    24 Mar 2010

    Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesInvited talk

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