Weinberg, Miranda Jean, U. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA - To aid research on 'Schooling Languages: Indigeneity and Language Policy in Jhapa District, Nepal,' supervised by Dr. Asif Agha
Preliminary abstract: Nepal, a country with incredible ethnic and linguistic diversity, is in the midst of writing a new constitution. This constitution may divide the country into federal states along ethnic and linguistic lines. The possibility of special state provisions for certain groups has been met with calls by various groups for indigenous rights, including education in indigenous languages. Simultaneously, migration within Nepal and internationally has led to increased use of Nepali and English, and growing demands for schooling in those languages. Through twelve months of ethnographic research centered on two government primary schools in the southeastern district of Jhapa, this project explores the cultural production of educated ways of speaking and changing social categories, such as citizenship and indigeneity. Through interviews and participant-observation with students, teachers, bureaucrats, and activists, as well as archival research, I seek to understand the role played by education and language policies in creating new concepts of citizenship, and new categories of citizens. What social categories emerge as salient in daily life and everyday talk? What signs and ideologies construct such categories and make them part of lived experience? How are such categories represented at various levels of educational and language policies, including at school?
Swank, Heidi F., Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'Textbooks and Grocery Lists: Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy in the Everyday of Dharamsala, India,' supervised by Dr. Robert Launay
HEIDI F. SWANK, then a student at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, was awarded a grant in January 2001 to aid research on 'Textbooks and Grocery Lists: Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy in the Everyday of Dharamsala, India,' supervised by Dr. Robert Launay. Through an analysis of seemingly inconsequential writings, such as text messages and grocery lists, this study examined how Tibetan refugee youth in Dharamsala, India utilize written language to negotiate boundaries and inclusion across and within three communities of practice that are based primarily on nativity. This study contributes to work that challenges theories of social reproduction through education and the primacy of spoken language, respectively, by demonstrating that 1) despite a change to Tibetan-medium education youth chose to write primarily in English in everyday situations and 2) although results of a sociolinguistic survey of 214 Dharamsala resident demonstrate uniform use of spoken Tibetan at home, the majority of Tibetan youth use English in everyday writing. Not only does this study support work that questions the influence of the educational system on language, but it extends this work by examining specifically written language, in particular, multilingual writing practices that diverge significantly from spoken language practices across this community.
Paulson, Jr. David, Temple U., Philadelphia, PA - To aid research on 'Writing in the Margins: Indigenous Literacy, Childhood Socialization, and Rapid Modernization in a Vietnamese Village,' supervised by Dr. Paul Garrett
Preliminary abstract: Since the 1986 economic reforms, language-education policy in Vietnam has undergone unprecedented change in the interest of 'developing the nation' by 2020 (Taylor 2001). Robust financial and institutional investments have been made in support foreign languages, while far less have been devoted to the indigenous languages of ethnic minorities (Djité 2011). As a result, ethnic Cham minorities have been left to contend with maintaining their spoken language and literary traditions as they are routinely devalued in the ideological climate of 'modernity' (Harms 2011). Drawing on ethnographic observations of Cham-, Vietnamese-, and foreign-language literacy classrooms, as well religious temples, homes, and other spaces where these languages are used, the present research examines the socialization experiences and everyday language practices of Cham ethnic-minority children as they transition into mainstream Vietnamese education. Through an investigation of both informal and institutionally organized interactions, this study analyzes how participation in indigenous, national, and international literacy practices index different senses of cultural citizenship (Rosaldo 1997), which, in turn, inform Cham minority children's complex sense of belonging within, and their meaningful intergenerational engagement with, the language and culture of their parents amid Vietnam's post-socialist transformation. This investigation reveals how indigenous children cultivate fluency in the culturally organized use of multiple literacies in this context, and how the Vietnam's rapid development informs experiences of childhood, transforms everyday language practices, and affects the vitality of minority languages in the 21st century.
Pakendorf, Dr. Brigitte, Max Planck Institute, Leipzig, Germany - To aid research on 'Linguistic and Genetic Perspectives on the Prehistory of the Yakuts,' supervised by Dr. Bernard Comrie
Pakendorf, Brigitte. 2007. Contact in the Prehistory of the Sakha (Yakuts) Linguistic and Genetic Perspectives. LOT: Netherlands
Pakendorf, Brigitte. 2007. From Possibility to Prohibition: A Rare Grammaticalization Pathway. Linguistic Typology 11:515-540
Pakendorf, Brigitte. 2007. Mating Patterns Amongst Siberian Reindeer Herders: Inferences From mtDNA and Y-Chromosomal Analyses. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 133(3):1013-1027
Pakendorf, Brigitte. 2007. The ‘Non-Possessive’ Use of Possessive Suffixes in Sakha (Yakut). Turkic Languages, 11(2): 226-234
Pakendorf, Brigitte, Innokentij N. Novgorodov, Vladimir L. Osakovskij, and Mark Stoneking. 2007. Mating Patterns amongst Siberian Reindeer Herders: Inferences from mtDNA and Y-Chromosomal Analyses. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 133(3):1013-1027.
Pakendorf, Brigitte. 2005 Language Loss vs Retention in result of Prehistoric Migrations in Siberia: A Linguistic-Genetic Synthesis. In Creating Outsiders: Endangered Languages, Migration, and Marginalization, (N. Crawhall and N. Ostler, eds.), Foundation for Endangered Languages: Bath, England.
Pakendorf, Brigitte, I.N. Novgorodov, V.L. Osakovskij, et al. 2006. Investigating the Effects of Prehistoric Migrations in Siberia: Genetic Variation and the Origins of Yakuts. Human Genetics 120:334-353.
Nonaka, Angela M., U. of California, Los Angeles, CA - To aid research on ''Pasa Bai': Language Socialization of an Indigenous Sign Language in a Northeastern Thai Village,' supervised by Dr. Elinor R. Ochs
ANGELA M. NONAKA, while a student at the University of California, Los Angeles, California, was awarded a grant in December 2002 to aid research on '`Pasa Bai:' Language Socialization of an Indigenous Sign Language in a Northeastern Thai Village,' supervised by Dr. Elinor R. Ochs. Ban Khor is a rural Thai village with an unusually large deaf population and an indigenous sign language, pasa bai (language deaf/mute), which spontaneously arose in the community 60 to 80 years ago. Although it once thrived - developing rapidly, spreading widely among both hearing and deaf villagers, and socio-communicatively managing deafness in the community - Ban Khor Sign Language and the delicate sociolinguistic ecology surrounding it are now threatened by demographic shift, socioeconomic change, and language contact with the national sign language. This is unfortunate for many reasons. For example, pasa bai exhibits rare linguistic features that enhance understanding of language typologies and language universals. Moreover, villagers' response to widespread hereditary deafness expands anthropological understanding of subjects ranging from the definition of a ''speech' community' to the social construction of disability. Language endangerment and its extended implications for sociocultural diversity are growing concerns for anthropologists. Despite increasing awareness of the problem, indigenous sign languages and their attendant speech communities remain among the world's least studied and most vulnerable languages and cultures. The project was conducted during calendar year 2003 with three concurrent goals: 1) to document the existence of Ban Khor Sign Language and the Ban Khor speech community; 2) to trace the ethnographic particulars of the emergence, spread, and decline of the local sign language; and 3) to develop a case study examining indigenous sign language endangerment in relation to language socialization practices, language ideologies, and cultural ecology.
Nonaka, Angela. 2004. The Forgotten Endangered Languages: Lessons on the Importance of Remembering from Thailand’s Ban Khor Sign Language. Language in Society 33(5):737-767.
Cody, Francis P., U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Language Ideology and Grassroots Literacy in Tamil Nadv, India,' supervised by Dr. Webb Keane
FRANCIS P. CODY, then a student at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, received funding in January 2004 to aid research on the 'Language and Ideology and Grassroots Literacy in Tamilnadu, India,' supervised by Dr. Webb Keane. Ethnographic fieldwork in a village in Pudukkottai District of Tamilnadu showed how literacy practices - not available to all - play a crucial mediating role, which conditions people's access to basic forms of knowledge, state services, and the main means of production (agricultural land). The hierarchically organized, polyglossic sociolinguistic character of Tamil consistently works in contradiction to humanist and state ideologies of equality and transparency in communication. Yet such ideologies are working in changing the very linguistic structure of written Tamil in certain contexts as well as opening new quasi-utopian social spaces in which new norms of communication are being worked out among villagers at the social and economic peripheries. The ethnography of a government literacy program known as Arivoli Iyakkam ('The Light of Knowledge Movement'), and also of other reading and writing practices such as newspaper production/consumption, petition filing, and private property registration, was used in this research to deve1op a political-economic approach within linguistic anthropology. Furthermore, this research investigated the meaning and practices of 'enlightenment' (arivoli, in Tamil) as lived and interpreted in a small-village context.
Cody, Francis. 2009. Inscribing Subjects to Citizenship: Petitions, Literacy Activism, and the Performativity of Signature in Rural Tamil India. Cultural Anthropology 24(3):347-380.
Brown, Laura C., U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Tipping Scales with Tongues: Language Use in Thanjavur's Petty Shops,' supervised by Judith T. Irvine
LAURA C. BROWN, then a student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, received funding in April 2005 to aid research on 'Tipping Scales with Tongues: Language Use in Thanjavur's Petty Shops,' supervised by Dr. Judith T. Irvine. Roadsides in India bloom with small grocery shops, mali kada, where goods, advertisements, and news from distant locations mix with products and persons who spend most of their time within a single neighborhood. Because they are primary sites for household consumption and expenditure, meetings between friends and interactions between neighbors who are unlikely to speak in other settings, these shops are critical sites for the enactment and negotiation of multiple kinds of affiliation, obligation, and trust. Focusing on conversations in and around three such shops in Thanjavur, India this project explores the ways in which communication about different forms of debt and obligation -- in cash, kind, action, and affection -- relates to ideas about the correctness, economic value, and morality of Tamil language use. Recordings of conversations in shops, examinations of account books, interviews with product suppliers, and explicit discussions of ways of speaking suggest that people doing business in such shops often stress the quantity and regularity of talk, as opposed to its form or content, as critical to the maintenance of relationships
Dubuisson, Eva-Marie, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Censoring Culture? Regional Authority and Political Legitimacy in Aitus Poetry in Post Soviet Kazakhstan,' supervised by Dr. Judith T. Irvine
EVA-MARIE DUBUISSON, then a student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, received funding in November 2005 to aid research on 'Censoring Culture? Regional Authority and Political Legitimacy in Aitus Poetry in Post-Soviet Kazakhstan,' supervised by Dr. Judith T. Irvine. The grantee conducted ethnographic research in Kazakhstan for the period January - August 2006, to study a form of improvisational poetry currently performed all through the Kazakh world, among populations in Central Asia, Turkey, China, Russia, and Mongolia. This verbal art form is now a nationalized performance network in Kazakhstan; poets have achieved great levels of notoriety and stardom as bearers of 'true Kazakh culture.' In their highly intertextual performances, poets voice a wide variety of social personae as they engage in verbal duels. The project during this final research period was to show how poets collaborate with their mentors, audiences, and sponsors in a complex and highly metaphorical critique of Kazakhstan's current government at the municipal, provincial, and national levels. Poets decry corruption and nepotism, the vast gulf in levels of wealth between the country's elite and the average citizen, continued Russian hegemony in the region, and unaddressed issues of social and environmental degradation throughout the country. Sponsors, typically independently wealthy businessmen, are capitalizing upon an opportunity to add their voices indirectly to that critique. In the current climate of repression, censorship, and authoritarianism throughout Central Asia today, open dissent is not tolerated. This project demonstrates how the collaboration and mutual dependence of sponsors and poets creates new forms of authority within the Kazakh world above and beyond the nation-state.
Davis, Christina Parks, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Language Practices and Ideologies of Difference in Sri Lanka' supervised by Dr. Judith T. Irvine
CHRISTINA P. DAVIS, then a student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, received funding in April 2006 to aid research on 'Language Practices and Ideologies of Difference in Sri Lanka,' supervised by Dr. Judith T. Irvine. A former British colony, Sri Lanka is an extraordinary diverse, multilingual island-nation. For over 25 years, Sri Lanka has been ravaged by an ethnic conflict, between the Sinhalese majority Sri Lankan government, and a Tamil separatist group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Drawing on 15 months of ethnographic research, this project explores multilingual language practices and ideologies of social difference among ethnic minority (Tamil and Muslim) adolescents in two educational institutions in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Two major questions were addressed: 1) how are social divisions -- based on ethnicity, religion, and class -- represented to students in institutional policies and curriculum involving language, such as the medium of instruction, and the teaching of correct or appropriate speech? And 2) how do the students in their own interactions in school and non-school settings engage with, negotiate, and create their own configurations of these groupings? This research contributes to the ethnography of education, studies of interactions in institutional settings, and to understandings of ethnic conflict.