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New Approaches to Orality: The Ecuadorian Experience



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Rendón, Jorge Gómez 


Ecuador is linguistically diverse: it is home to thirteen indigenous languages besides the official language (Spanish). All of Ecuador’s indigenous languages, including the one with the largest number of speakers, are endangered. Due to a century-long history of invisibility and shrinking of native territories, these languages remain largely anchored in orality.

In this paper, I discuss two new approaches to orality. One is my proposal of a laboratory of indigenous languages, an initiative that was launched in 2008 for Kichwa in its pilot stage by the Ministry of Education. The second proposal has to do with the management and safeguarding of oral expressions as part of intangible cultural heritage in the framework of a Law of Culture now being discussed by the Congress in Ecuador. By comparing these two approaches, I will highlight several political issues including the tension between individual property rights and collective rights in the dissemination of intangible cultural heritage, and the political appropriation of orality for the improvement of indigenous education and the strengthening of indigenous activist movements.


World Oral Literature Project Workshop 2010


oral literature, Ecuador, indigenous, safeguarding

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