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Look Before You Leap: On Decolonizing (Linguistic) Fieldwork

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This first blogpost presents a stream of consciousness from the inventory of endangered languages in the northeastern DRC to reflections on research ethics in general

An exciting part of BANTURIVERS is that we will work with loads of new data that will be collected fresh from the field. I regret that I will not be the one spending so much time in the DRC, but instead I get to plan the lay-out of fieldwork and will get some sneak-peeks during short stays. Adventure is part of the calling, is it not? However, in the 21st century it is no longer okay to simply hop on a plane and collect data carelessly.

We have to reflect on ownership, for instance. But let us return to that moment when I discovered that “saving languages” dangerously evokes the “saving souls” discourse of epochs that we consider far gone.

More to follow soon…

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  1. Pingback: 1-5 July 2019: International Conference on Historical Linguistics 24, Australian National University, Canberra – Banturivers

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