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Lexical necropolitcs: the raciolinguistics of language oppression on the Tibetan margins of Chineseness

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-06-15, 05:03 authored by Gerald RocheGerald Roche
This article aims to expand raciolinguistic theory to examine the issue of language oppression, i.e., enforced language loss. I used Foucauldian theories of race and racism to establish a link between lexical purism and language oppression, giving rise to a raciolinguistic theory of language oppression that I refer to as ‘lexical necropolitics.’ This issue is explored through a case study from northeast Tibet. I describe how state racism and the subordination of minority languages in the People's Republic of China has led to a grass-roots lexical purism campaign among Tibetans, and argue that since 2008, this purism has been linked to language oppression by the emergence of a new, biosovereign configuration of state power.


I would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers, as well as the editors of this special issue, for their thoughtful feedback on this article. Thanks also to Tonya Stebbins for reading and commenting on a draft. Any errors and shortcomings remain my own. The research for this article was supported by the Australian Research Council (DE150100388).


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Language and Communication




10p. (p. 111-120)





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