Elements of place name restoration: repair and replenishment in language

Authors: Sophie Brown*, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Indigenous Peoples, Human Rights
Keywords: Language, Landscape, Geolinguistics, Indigenous Issues, Restoration
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download



This poster explores the terrain of place name restoration, as a reparative act, inspired and informed by my particular toponymic research in the Haudenosaunee territory of upstate New York and the surrounding landscape. In place name restoration, especially in indigenous territory, layers of place, language, and culture are actively complicated; as place names survive, evolve, and resist forces of colonialist erasure, violence, and distortion, these elements of place name restoration can become critically obscured. This poster proposes a visualization of these elements and charts their possible relationships. Stemming from theoretical and material engagement with indigenous place names, such visualization clarifies the components of place name restoration – mapping; linguistic analysis; evaluation of language authenticity and authorship; consideration of meaning and contextuality in landscape; and engagement with the processes of repair and restitution. This discussion and its emerging ethos works to acknowledge and support place name restoration work in contexts of settler-colonialist suppression; it also aims to create a dynamic framework for future geolinguistic projects, on both large and continuing scales.

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