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On Language

As practitioners working in community based research, we have often struggled with the questions of language. What are our frames of reference and how do we negotiate these with the different ways of seeing and framing that are used by the local communities.

The development sector is fraught with questions and concerns around language. In We said, they said: the politics of conceptual frameworks in disasters and climate change in Colombia and Latin America, researchers reflect on their practice to ask:

"Were project participants adopting researchers’ vocabularies in an attempt to communicate their own needs and advance their own interests? Were we being patronizing with local residents by imposing a new language? Or even worse, were we enacting a new form of intellectual colonialism imposed by the North on the Global South?"

You can also watch Lisa Bornstein talk about these experiences and questions here from the paper starting 11:02 minutes.

Working with the Sustainable development Goals is another such example, where the language of the "Global Expert" is incomprehensible to the "Local Community". How then do we translate and mediate in a way that develops two-way learning?

For us at #GlocalCoLab, the way we use and engage with language is part of our DNA. and while we may not have the answers to all the questions, we are striving to build a practice that consciously experiments with how we negotiate patterns of languages.

How do you experience the patterns of languages in your practice?

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