Language revitalization is imbued with tensions, and while it often is emancipatory, reclaiming a language can be a painful, silencing experience. Processes of colonization have led to epistemological absences (Santos 2012), which may be conceptualized as manifestations of silence. Understanding how and why silences come about and linger today is important for overcoming challenges those engaging in language reclamation may face. Therefore, paying attention to silences and emotional aspects of revitalization processes is important. In order to explore the inherent tensions of revitalization processes, I investigate lived experiences of language reclamation, focusing on emotions and silences in revitalization processes of Sámi in Northern Norway. European nation states colonized not only in the global South, but also ‘at home’. Thus, the South, in the form of silenced and marginalized populations, also exists in the global North (Santos 2012). Drawing on perspectives from Southern Theory and Gordon’s (2017) sociology of haunting, I investigate silences, emotions and tensions in language reclamation to shed light on how our colonial past may re-emerge in processes of language reclamation.

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