Linguistics is Colonialism


  • Jessica Casey University of King's College


Max Liboiron explores the relations of place and context bound up in written language in their 2021 book Pollution is Colonialism. This book outlines many bad relations of plastic pollution, from the apparent violence of assuming access to Indigenous lands for corporate profits, to the less obvious violence associated with defining "pollution" using the threshold theory. This book critiques colonial structures in pollution science and delves deeply into the methodology of anti-colonial science. The author constantly reminds the reader of the relations of writing as a form of knowledge transfer, drawing attention to its peculiarities and limitations by dwelling in specificity and nuance. Linguistics is a field that studies language and linguistic structures, including semantics, etymology, and orthography. Sociolinguistics situates language as impacted by cultural norms and contexts. Even though written academic text is structured to conceal connection to place and context, Liboiron twists the form to draw out these relations. The way Liboiron frequently, even tediously, draws out the specific relations of story and place through metalinguistics demonstrates a dedication towards good relations in academic work, even if working with imperfect tools and in troubled translations.




How to Cite

Casey, J. (2024). Linguistics is Colonialism. Anti-Colonial Science: A Course Journal, 2. Retrieved from