GSE Publications

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version


Publication Source

Language Documentation and Description



Start Page


Last Page



In an approach inspired by portraiture and ‘history in person,’ this paper portrays three women Indigenous language activists engaged in language reclamation, highlighting the mutually constitutive nature of language and the enduring struggles of Indigenous peoples that are crucibles for forging their identities. Neri Mamani breaks down longstanding language and identity compartmentalisations in Peru by assuming a personal language policy of using Quechua and engaging in Indigenous practices in public, urban, and literate spaces. Nobuhle Hlongwa teaches a university course on language planning through isiZulu medium and is a key figure in advocating for, negotiating, and implementing multilingual language policy at her university and in South Africa. Though discouraged by the politics of language policy, Hanna Outakoski stays in the fray for the sake of Sámi language, as university teacher of Sámi, activist for Sámi at the municipal level, and researcher in a cross-national multilingual literacy assessment of Sámi youth. Though the portraits give only a glimmer of the rich and complex lives, scholarship, and commitment of the three women, they demonstrate the power of individuals in shaping language landscapes, policy, and assessment; and the implementational and ideological paths and spaces for language reclamation opened up as they do so.

Copyright/Permission Statement

This article is published under a Creative Commons License CC-BY-NC (Attribution-NonCommercial). The licence permits users to use, reproduce, disseminate or display the article provided that the author is attributed as the original creator and that the reuse is restricted to non-commercial purposes i.e. research or educational use. See


ethnography, bilingual education, implementational and ideological spaces, language policy, PROEIB-Andes



Date Posted: 02 November 2018

This document has been peer reviewed.