Language Hegemonies and their Discontents: History, Theory, Bilingualism, and Funds of Knowledge

  • Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez Arizona State University


This article reviews hegemonic impositions of language and culture over the history of the Southwest North American Region, beginning with Spanish imperial attempts to erase the existing linguistic and cultural practices of Indigenous communities. It goes on to consider the educational processes by which English language and American culture were imposed on Mexican American children and communities following the American Mexican War. Along with hegemonic attempts to subdue and dominate populations, the article also explores the myriad ways subjugated populations have expressed their discontent, from violent revolt to the creation of alternative educational programs. With reference to the latter, given the well-attested benefits of bilingualism, it is argued that one way to capitalize on the cultural and linguistic capacities of transborder populations is to integrate dual-language education and a funds of knowledge approach. Engagement in Mexican-origin children’s social networks will help educators to counter the process of cultural erasure and to ensure that bilingual programs benefit language-minority students, and not just middle-class, English-dominant students. Without support for Mexican-origin and other Latino/a students to emerge fully as complex cultural beings, we will continue to perpetuate a situation of linguistic and cultural hegemony where populations are restricted from their full human potential.