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Antiracist Praxis

Linguistic Imperialism by George Koors

Knowledge is preserved by shared language. Knowledge is constructed in groups and contextualized by these groups and these processes ascribe value to knowledge (Canagarajah 54-5). To that end, it is important to recognize as readers, writers, and scholars that privileging one kind of way of talking about things over another is counter to our academic goals. The language and tone we use in a particular item of writing is determined by the community surrounding it. Thinking about this on a global scale, writers in a privileged community of English speakers may not be able to read the material published in another language. That does not invalidate the materials published in those other languages. This extends as well culturally: oral, musical, and other traditions of knowledge sharing are just as valid. In keeping with Canagarajah, it is important to realize how these moments of knowledge creation are contextualized. Bartholomae makes the point that students are working to “appropriate a specialized discourse” in their work (9). This discourse is what is constructed around the act of knowledge development and sharing. As we apply value to instances of writing, say by noting how many times an article has been cited or noting an article’s influence, we must also be mindful that this gives privilege to that mode of language and gives it power.

Works Cited

Bartholomae, David. “Inventing the University.” Journal of Basic Writing, vol. 5, no. 1, 1986, pp. 4–23. JSTOR,

Canagarajah, A. Suresh. A Geopolitics of Academic Writing. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2002.