Linguistic Motherwork in the Zapotec Diaspora: Zapoteca Mothers’ Perspectives on Indigenous Language Maintenance

Ramón Antonio Martínez, Melisa Mesinas


This article explores Indigenous Mexican mothers’ perspectives on multilingualism and Indigenous language maintenance in their children’s lives. Drawing on interview data from a larger qualitative study of language and ideology among multilingual children in Los Angeles, California, the article examines the perspectives of four Zapotec mothers who have children in a local public school with a Spanish-English dual language program. The interview data highlight what these women think and do with respect to the maintenance of the Zapotec language in the lives of their school-aged children. Critical Latinx Indigeneities and the feminist notion of linguistic motherwork are used to highlight the intersectional nature of these women’s efforts to construct and sustain indigeneity in diaspora.



Indigeneity; Multilingualism; Gender; Zapotec; Indigenous language maintenance

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