Italian Studies | Seminar – European languages on Indigenous land: towards decolonising language teaching
Italian Studies seminar
European languages on Indigenous land: towards decolonising language teaching
Associate Professor Francesco Ricatti (ANU)
Thursday, 20 October 5pm AEDT (Sydney time)
Despite an alleged decolonial turn in contemporary universities, in Australia and around the world, there is still little understanding of what scholars of European languages working and living on Indigenous land can do in order to contribute to decolonisation. If we were to assume that we cannot decolonise the colonisers, and if we were to recognise the genocidal role that European languages have played in colonisation, then we would have to come to the conclusion that the marginalisation of European languages in contemporary universities, rather than their renewal, may contribute to decolonising tertiary education. On the other hand, for those same reasons, European languages remain fundamental to our understanding of colonialism and Imperialism in past and present societies. Furthermore, the constant attack and undermining of European languages in contemporary neoliberal academia, for instance with Italian gradually disappearing from Australian universities, also suggests that their marginalisation is contributing to weakening the role of humanities in the tertiary sector, in favour of acritical, utilitarian and extractive forms of research and education. It then becomes apparent that a radical reshaping of the teaching of European languages may provide the most effective way of addressing these contradictions. In this presentation I will suggest some of the steps that we could take in moving towards a decolonial approach to the teaching of European languages. Curriculum renewal may play an important role in this, and I will provide some examples from my own teaching experience. Yet more structural reforms may be necessary, if we want to support a radical transformation of the teaching of European languages on Indigenous land.
About the presenter
Dr Francesco Ricatti is Associate Professor and Convenor of Italian Studies at The Australian National University. He has published extensively on the history of Italian migration to Australia, including his most recent book, Italians in Australia: History, Memory, Identity (Palgrave 2018). His most recent research focuses on decolonial and transcultural approaches to migration and ethnic history – including a special forum in the journal Altreitalie on decolonising Italian migration to Australia (open access). Before joining ANU he was the coordinator of European Languages at Monash University, where he led a major review and renewal of the program.
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