Language Ideologies and the Intercultural Universities in Mexico: San Felipe del Progreso and Ixhuatlán de Madero
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Language Ideologies and the Intercultural Universities in Mexico: San Felipe del Progreso and Ixhuatlán de Madero


In recent decades Mexico has moved to recognize the linguistic rights of its many indigenous languages and cultures. For the first time in the history of Mexico, this was enshrined in a 2001 amendment in the country’s Constitution recognizing the rights of the indigenous communities ‘to preserve and enrich their languages, knowledge, and every element contributing to their culture and identity’, then followed by the more exhaustive General Law on the Linguistic Rights of Indigenous Communities in 2003, whose article IV sets Spanish on the same level as indigenous languages as ‘national languages’ and having the same validity, specifically regarding the respect of human rights in the transactions with the justice system. These changes in the legal status of indigenous languages marked the end of the one language policy of the Secretaría de Educación Pública (SEP) for public schools. As a partial success achieved by the Zapatista movement, bilingual schools and the intercultural universities were established. The intercultural universities are the object of this study and they represent a strategic and structural change in public education policy towards indigenous languages and cultures. The intercultural universities were built to serve indigenous communities that traditionally had their linguistic and even human rights violated. The first one was founded in 2004, the Universidad Intercultural del Estado de México (UIEM), the main site of my fieldwork for this dissertation, and, secondly, the Universidad Veracruzana Intercultural (UVI), founded in 2007. The intent of these universities is to support regional cultural and linguistic diversity and to offer higher education opportunities in underrepresented regional and indigenous communities. But, about 15 years after the founding of the first intercultural university, what impact are they having on the language ideologies of the students, in the family, and in the community? This is the key question investigated in this study. These two intercultural universities were the sites of quantitative and qualitative research into the linguistic attitudes of students and staff and surrounding families and communities and the impact the intercultural universities are having on language ideologies. Keywords: Changing language ideologies, higher education for indigenous communities, reversing language shift, intercultural universities, UIEM, Universidad Veracruzana Intercultural sede Huasteca, Mazahua, Tlahuica, Nahuatl, indigenous languages, minority language educational rights, language policy, SEP, CGEIB, San Felipe del Progreso, Estado de México, Ixhuatlán del Madero, Estado de Veracruz, Mexico, INAH, INALI.

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