Practices of Inclusion and Exclusion: Perspectives on Equitable Futures in Estonian Language Policy

Delaney Michael Skerrett (University of Queensland)

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with four (two Russian-speaking and two -Estonian speaking) individuals that are either directly involved in language policy activities or have a public role as authorities on social issues in Estonia. The interview questions were designed to elicit how the individuals are involved in language policy activities, how they perceive the viability of the Estonian language and what they would recommend to improve this, and how they assess current language policy in terms of its equitability for (different groups of) Russian-speakers and how it could be improved in order to treat them more fairly and increase their likelihood of acquiring and speaking Estonian. It is this final issue that I concentrate on in this paper: namely, how the interviewees perceive the issue of the motivation of Russian-speakers to learn Estonian and what can be done to increase this. The poststructuralist paradigm informing the analysis requires us to understand behaviours as contingent on context; discourses need to be reshaped to admit more diversity in the acceptable and appropriate “performance” of everyday life and thus within identity group structures. The practices of everyday life that maintain and reflect discourses thus need to promote heterogeneity: be queerer. I call these practices of inclusion in contrast to many current practices which sustain barriers between ethnic Estonians and Russian-speakers, which we can call thus practices of exclusion.

Comments are closed.