As the video above demonstrates, the world is filled with beautifully diverse languages. However factors such as colonialism and language imperialism have threatened this diversity. To learn more, we’ll discuss Tiffany Higgins’ Rethinking the Brazilian Amazon: A Conversation with Indigenous Poet Márcia Wayna Kambeba. In addition to contextualizing some of the challenges facing indigenous languages, this article introduces us to Márcia Wayna Kambeba.

Kambeba is a Brazilian poet of Omágua/Kambeba heritage whose poetry focuses on nature, identity, and social justice. In their amplification of indigenous voices, Kambeba’s poems are acts of resistance. Through writing them, Kambeba dislodges stereotypes, promotes her native language, and connects with other indigenous communities. She also advocates for the environment and the protection of the Amazon Basin. In The Time of Climate, for example, Kambeba describes two periods in Earth’s history, one in which nature was free-flowing (‘there was a time’) and one of over-production (men ‘changed everything’). After watching the video and reading the article, consider the way this poem ties into Kambeba’s comments on memory, history, language, and violence. What did you learn about her world view? How has her lifestyle and home been affected by environmental degradation?

More Questions

  • In the interview, Kambeba states that without language, her people are left “without memory, without history.” What is your interpretation of this statement, and does it apply to you and the languages you speak?
  • In the video, we are urged to protect language diversity by appreciating indigenous languages. In which ways can we accomplish this task?

After reading Rethinking the Brazilian Amazon (and writing down questions and new vocabulary) join us for an online discussion. We will meet on Friday, April 23 at 11:00 AM EST. The meeting is free and all are welcome.

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