Language Policy

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 187–206 | Cite as

A Peripherist View of English as a Language of Decolonization in Post-Colonial India



This article presents a ‘peripherist’ view of English language use in India. I define peripherism as the ideology or view of those groups that have historically been linguistically subalternized or disenfranchised but that have now, due to the market forces of globalization, gained access to linguistic capital. Rather than a tool of linguicism, which it was during British colonialism, English in India today is an agent of decolonization that enables the urban poor to access the global economy. The peripherist ideology disagrees with sociolinguists who think that English endangers local languages and perpetuates inequality. It sees this as Orientalism disguised as liberal sociolinguistics that, in fact, reproduces the inequitable distribution of linguistic capital and fails to acknowledge the tenacity of indigenous cultures in being able to maintain their longevity. The data, from a dual medium school, is used to explore unique literacy practices that lay the foundations of workplace literacy based on culturally contextualized texts and pedagogies.

Key words:

bilingual education decolonization globalization India pedagogies of the poor post-colonial theory 



English Language Teaching


Municipal Corporation of Delhi


National Council for Educational Research and Training


Nagar Nigam Bal Vidyalaya (Municipal Primary School)


Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya (Sarvodaya Girls School)


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Research in Pedagogy and Practice National Institute of EducationNanyang Technical UniversitySingapore

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