Calling all language heroes: Game shows, word play, and Indigenous language revitalization

Key information

Brunei Gallery
Event type
Summer school

About this event

Eliana Ritts
As part of the 2022 SOAS Centre of Taiwan Studies Summer School, we kindly ask that you register to attend.
*Please be aware that this session follows British Summer Time (BST) .
Also available via Microsoft Teams


Can a game show be a site of Indigenous language revitalization? And can a state-funded television show be a space for Indigenous sovereignty? Now in its 5th season, Kai Language Heroes (Kai試英雄之全原出動) is an Indigenous language game show at Taiwan Indigenous Television, the first Indigenous television station in Asia. In this talk, I show how Kai Language Heroes creatively re-imagines the game show genre to overcome some of the many challenges that face contemporary Indigenous language learners, from long histories of linguistic erasure to ongoing discrimination and devaluation within Taiwan’s language market. By strategically adapting the game show format, Kai’s producers create a nuanced, safe, and inclusive space for language learning that moves beyond state frameworks of multiculturalism. I look at how these approaches use lightness and play as a way to decolonize the screen, opening up new possibilities for Indigenous self-representation.

Speaker's Bio

Eliana Ritts is a Fulbright Scholar and PhD Candidate in Anthropology at New York University, interested in the relationships between media, sovereignty, and politics of representation. She is currently writing her dissertation on Indigenous media in Taiwan, centered around Taiwan Indigenous Television. In 2019 she produced and directed Tea for Taiwan, a documentary that looks at the relationship between bubble tea and self-determination across three generations of Taiwanese-American activists in New York City. She also is a board member and co-curator at the City Reliquary Museum in New York, and served on the selection committee for the 2021 Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival.

Organiser: Centre of Taiwan Studies

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