Ofelia García

Coloniality and Latinx multilingualism: El sur también existe

Sunday 15th 9:00 – 10:00

Ofelia García


Coloniality, a concept coined by the Peruvian sociologist Aníbal Quijano (2000), focuses on the continuing “colonial power matrix” through which race and racism have become the principle to organize people, their knowledge systems, and their language, into superior and inferior. Bringing to bear thinking from an epistemological Sur (Santos, 2007), this presentation examines U.S. Latinx ways of doing their multilingualism, in concert with a southern intellectual and political trajectory of resistance to coloniality. To bring this into sharper focus, we look at how U.S. Latinx bilingual students fare today in an educational system that increasingly relies on the constructs of language standards and academic language to draw boundaries between those who belong and those who don’t. As a result, many U.S. Latinx students are relegated to inferior educational programs where their words and their worlds are “silenced knowledges” (Mignolo, 2002). We end by proposing that the concept of translanguaging offers the possibility of thinking about Latinx bilingualism otherwise, in ways that decolonizes understandings of language and bilingualism that have been tied to the colonial matrix of power.


Ofelia García is Professor Emerita in the Ph.D. programs in Urban Education and Latin American, Iberian and Latino Cultures at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. García has published widely in the areas of bilingualism and bilingual education, the education of language minoritized bilinguals, sociology of language, and language policy. Among her best-known books are Bilingual Education in the 21st Century: A Global Perspective (new window); and Translanguaging; Language, Bilingualism and Education (with Li Wei), which received the 2015 British Association of Applied Linguistics Award. In 2017 she received the Charles Ferguson Award in Applied Linguistics and the AERA Lifetime Career Award in Bilingual Education. She is a member of the National Academy of Education.