Announcement: Planeta.com hosts a live conversation Monday, November 5 with Brook Danielle Lillehaugen, Moisés García Guzmán, and others about living languages and in particular Zapotec in San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya, Oaxaca, Mexico. Our conversation will mostly be in English, but there will be some clarifications and explorations in Spanish and Zapotec. We start at 2pm Oaxaca-time (12pm Pacific, 3pm Eastern).
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For anyone keen on Indigenous languages, language revitalization and the International Year of Indigenous Languages (2019 at its finest!), this conversation spotlights a favorite new video series: Dizhsa Nabani = Lengua Viva = Living Language, a documentary project on Zapotec language and identity in San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya, Oaxaca, Mexico.
The video series was made possible by Haverford College’s DocuLabs Program, a joint initiative of VCAM and the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities.
The series was co-produced by: Moisés García Guzmán, Brook Lillehaugen, Hilary Brashear, Laura Deutch, Sabea K. Evans, Kathryn Goldberg, Lucia Palmarini, Marcelo Jauregui-Volpe, Edward Ogborn, Catherine Rodgers, Vicky Funari.
Here’s what I love: The episodes show the Zapotec language in use. The voices are we hear are locals. All of this is presented in cinematic style. The documentarians are accomplished videographers and editors. If there are awards for small budget streaming Indigenous language documentary series or for alternative Oaxaca promotion, then Dizhsa Nabani is on the top of my 2018 list.
Official spin: Dizhsa Nabani explores the relationship between Zapotec identity, language and daily life. Zapotec languages are considered threatened as they are being acquired as native languages by fewer and fewer people. Community and individual identity are entwined with language, especially in Mexico, where criteria for self-identifying as belonging to an indigenous community usually includes speaking the corresponding language. Most Zapotec people today are bilingual, and under pressure from anti-indigenous discrimination, many choose to use Spanish in contexts that were previously reserved as Zapotec-language domains, including the home, the market, and town meetings. Given this sociolinguistic context, speaking Zapotec can be seen as an act of resistance. The goal of this web-based docu-series is to explore how language is interwoven with identity and with the vitality of the Zapotec community in San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya, including the relationship between language and traditional farming, cooking techniques, and artistic performance and creation.