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Michel DeGraff: Language, Education, and (In)equality in Haiti: Struggling through Centuries of Coloniality

Friday, October 20, 2017 at 3:30pm to 5:00pm

Uris Hall, G08
Central Campus

The exclusion of so called "local languages" in education, as in the case of Haitian Creole ("Kreyòl") in Haiti, is one of the most insidious tools (and a vivid reflex) of power struggles both within and across colonial and post-colonial societies.  These struggles (around race, class, gender, ethnicity, etc.) go back to, at least, Europe's "mission civilisatrice." Indeed, language and education have long been two powerful vectors in the exploitation of the many for the benefit of the few (i.e., in the transmission of inequity in the context of geo-political domination and elite closure).  In this talk, DeGraff considers Haiti (including the MIT-Haiti Initiative that he directs) as a case study, and he argues that linguistic equality is a prerequisite to economic and political equity---with the hope that linguistics and education can, indeed, be enlisted in our efforts to make the world better.

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Event Type

Author Appearance, Lecture, Research, Special Event


Linguistics, Sociology, Romance Studies, Africana Studies and Research Center, Center for the Study of Inequality






Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Clara Elpi


Michel Degraff

Speaker Affiliation

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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