“Until I Became a Professional, I Was Not, Consciously, Indigenous”: One Intercultural Bilingual Educator’s Trajectory in Indigenous Language Revitalization
bilingual intercultural education
Drawing from long-term ethnographic research in the Andes, this paper examines one Quechua-speaking Indigenous bilingual educator’s trajectory as she traversed (and traverses) from rural highland communities of southern Peru through development as teacher, teacher educator, researcher, and advocate for Indigenous identity and language revitalization across urban, periurban, and rural spaces. Neri Mamani grew up in highland Peru and at the time I met her in 2005 was a bilingual intercultural education practitioner enrolled in master’s studies at the Program for Professional Development in Bilingual Intercultural Education for the Andean Region (PROEIB-Andes) at the University of San Simón in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Drawing from my ethnographic research at PROEIB that year, situated also within a broader context of my ethnographic research on bilingual education in the Andes across several decades and Neri’s life trajectory across those same decades, this paper analyzes her narrative as it emerged in a 4-hour interview with me. I argue that Neri and her peers’ recognizing, valorizing, and studying the multiple and mobile linguistic, cultural, and intercultural resources at play in their own and others’ professional practices around bilingual intercultural education enable them to co-construct an Indigenous identity that challenges deep-seated social inequalities in their Andean world.