Linguistic Genocide in Education or Worldwide Diversity and Human Rights?
Tove Skutnabb-Kangas
140 x 216 mm
Year of Publishing
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In this powerful multidisciplinary new book, Tove Skutnabb-Kangas shows how most indigenous and minority education contributes to linguistic genocide according to United Nations definitions. Her starting point is that it is normal and desirable for people, groups, countries, and schools to be multilingual and multicultural. She brings together theoretical concerns and research areas which no other contemporary book synthesizes: linguistic human rights; minority and multilingual education; language ecology and threatened languages; the relationship between biodiversity and linguistic and cultural diversity; the impact of linguistic imperialism and unequal power relations on ethnicity, linguistic, and cultural competence, and identities. Theory is combined with a wealth of factual encyclopedic information and with many examples and vignettes. The examples come from all parts of the world and try to avoid Eurocentrism. Oriented toward theory and practice, facts and evaluations, reflection and action, the book prompts readers to find information about the world and their local contexts, to reflect, and to act. It is essential reading for scholars, students, and practitioners in the fields of language and society, language policy and language planning, the sociology of education, critical pedagogy, comparative education, educational linguistics, minority studies, cultural studies, human rights, ethnolinguistics, anthropology, and ecological issues.


"This work, by one of the leading scholars of linguistic human rights, presents a provocative, engaging, grand synthesis. It makes a major contribution by bringing together a number of contemporary theoretical and research orientations as evidenced by its focus on linguistic human rights, linguistic ecology, and the impact of linguistic imperialism. In addition, it provides basic insights on anti-racist education.... This is a book that deserves reading by students and scholars committed to furthering educational equity and human rights. Both specialists and those new to the field will find it challenging and informative. It is the type of book that forces educators and students to reflect on their own assumptions and values." -- Terrence Wiley, California State University-Long Beach

"A pathbreaking text, written with absolute clarity of purpose and commitment.... The book as a whole takes the debates about minority languages much further than ever before.... It is a fascinating and immediate social history of languages, political forces, struggles, and education.... .[Although] this is a lengthy work, and one which may appear to be daunting at the outset.... what one discovers is an engaging and varied style which teases the reader further and further into a domain which has never before been captured from so many and new angles.... It is a privilege and a pleasure to read a work of such international significance." -- Kathleen Heugh, Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa, University of Cape Town

"An absolutely stirring 'J'accuse', appealing to the conscience of the Western world to cease the ethnolinguistic genocide which it has inflicted on humanity at large. Via a superb and compelling assembly of data, logic, argument, and analysis, Skutnabb-Kangas shows how justice, decency, health, social stability, and normal biodiversity all suffer, even in the West itself, when linguacidal state and global policies are implemented. Nothing less than an international campaign for linguistic human rights is called for and called for with compelling force and convincing clarity." -- Joshua Fishman, University Research Professor of Social Sciences, Yeshiva University, and Visiting Professor of Linguistics, Stanford University

"A substantial, important, and creative contribution.... Skutnabb-Kangas is a very gifted and respected scholar, and her past work has been seminal in the field. This book not only brings together a number of the themes and topics on which she has worked in the past, but moves forward in a substantial manner the debate about language policy in education broadly conceived.... It represents Skutnabb-Kangas at her very best, and will challenge other researchers, teachers, and policy makers to more honestly and thoughtfully address language-related issues in education." -- Timothy Reagan, University of Connecticut

Dr. Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Emerita, guest researcher at the Department of Languages and Culture, University of Roskilde, Denmark and visiting professor at Åbo Akademi University, Department of Education, Vasa, Finland, had a bilingual upbringing in Finnish and Swedish in officially bilingual Finland. She has been actively involved with minorities’ struggle for language rights for over five decades. Her main research interests are in linguistic human rights, linguistic genocide, linguicism (linguistically argued racism), bilingualism and multilingual education, linguistic imperialism and the subtractive spread of English, support for endangered languages, and the relationship between linguistic and cultural diversity and biodiversity. She was the Linguapax Award recipient and the Carl Axel Gottlund Award recipient, both in 2003.

She has written/edited around fifty books and monographs and around 400 book chapters and scientific articles in over thirty languages. Among her path-breaking books in English are Bilingualism or Not – the Education of Minorities (1984); Minority Education: from Shame to Struggle, ed. with Jim Cummins (1988); Linguistic Human Rights. Overcoming Linguistic Discrimination, ed. with Robert Phillipson (1994); Language: A Right and a Resource. Approaching Linguistic Human Rights ed. with Miklós Kontra, Robert Phillipson and Tibor Várady (1999); Linguistic Genocide in Education - or Worldwide Diversity and Human Rights? (2000); Sharing a World of Difference. The Earth's Linguistic, Cultural, and Biological Diversity (with Luisa Maffi and David Harmon, 2003) and Imagining Multilingual Schools: Language in Education and Glocalization, ed. with Ofelia García and María Torres-Guzmán (2006). Multilingual Education  for Social Justice: Globalising the Local (ed. with Ajit Mohanty, Minati Panda and Robert Phillipson) will appear in 2009.

She is presently involved in projects in Nepal and India where Indigenous children are being taught through the medium of their mother tongues. She lives on a small ecological/organic farm in Denmark with husband Robert Phillipson. For more publications, see her home page

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