Language Policy

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 365–384 | Cite as

What counts as language education policy? Developing a materialist Anti-racist approach to language activism

  • Nelson FloresEmail author
  • Sofia Chaparro
Original Paper


Language activism has been at the core of language education policy since its emergence as a scholarly field in the 1960s under the leadership of Joshua Fishman. In this article, we seek to build on this tradition to envision a new approach to language activism for the twenty-first century. In particular, we advocate a materialist anti-racist approach to language activism that broadens what counts as language education policy to include a focus on the broader racial and economic policies that impact the lives of language-minoritized communities. In order to illustrate the need for a materialist anti-racist framing of language education policy we provide portraits of four schools in the School District of Philadelphia that offer dual language bilingual education programs. We demonstrate the ways that larger societal inequities hinder these programs from serving the socially transformative function that advocates for these programs aspire toward. We end by calling for a new paradigm of language education policy that connects language activism with other movements that seek to address societal inequities caused by a myriad of factors including poverty, racism, and xenophobia.


Materialist anti-racism Language education policy Language activism Bilingual education Philadelphia 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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