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In this article I discuss the close relationship between colonialism and the expansion of language. Language is always politically contested. A language can become an inter­national language today because it has a long history of colonization and subjugation of other groups of people. I analyze the sociopolitical dimension of tongues by engag­ing, among others, linguist Roman Jakobson, philosopher Michel Foucault, and cultural theorist Judith Butler. By placing tongues in the context of the politics of language, I aim to show that the practice of speaking in tongues can be viewed as a strategic subversion and disruption of the regime of normalized language.


Originally published in Pneuma

38:3 293-311

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