Johnson, Amanda Caroline, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Twitter and the Body Parodic: Global Circulation of a Speech Genre,' supervised by Dr. Graham Jones
Preliminary abstract: This project investigates the global circulation of Twitter parody accounts as a genre of social critique, asking how parody and the parodic voice are collaboratively created by the users and architects of Twitter. For while parodists animate accounts and, with interlocutors, co-create characters, the platform's architects shape expressive parameters through policies, affordances, and ideologies. As the Twitter platform expands, it increasingly comes into contact with a variety of legal regimes, censorship apparatuses, and cultural expectations that challenge the Twitter corporation's core values. No expressive form epitomizes such conflict more strongly than Twitter parody accounts, particularly those that 'animate' (Goffman 1981) the voices of political figures. Parody accounts serve as a flash point for legal issues of author's rights, impersonation, and defamation, with national and international dimensions. This project thus also examines shifting concepts of political participation and sovereignty. How do new communication resources spark negotiation of community affiliation and social power, and how do media actors navigate within and beyond traditional legal frameworks? To investigate these questions, this project combines organizational ethnography within Twitter itself--spanning the company's domestic and international operations--with comparative linguistic anthropological research on Twitter parodists and parody accounts that target regional politics in the United States, the Arab world, and Japan. It thus offers an alternative approach to both the media producer/consumer dyad and the online/offline binary, instead considering the Twitter participation ecology as a whole.
Kim, Ujin, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Moral Resonance: Honorific Speech among Kazakh Nomads in China,' supervised by Dr. Judith T. Irvine
Preliminary abstract: The honorific speech of Kazakh nomads I propose to study is of great anthropological interest because highly systematic honorific expressions are found in a presumably egalitarian nomadic society. Are the Kazakh nomads not very egalitarian after all? What kinds of asymmetric relations are expressed in Kazakh honorifics? What do these linguistic forms communicate besides social status? What motivates the Kazakh nomads to actively engage in the give and take of honorific speech? I hypothesize that Kazakh nomads use honorifics not only to acknowledge certain unequal social relations that may exist among them, but also to invoke moral stereotypes ideologically associated with their choice of linguistic forms, regardless of their social standing. This research explores the semiotic processes that link honorific speech to the local notions of moral personhood, proper conduct, and ideal social order.
Luong, Dr. Hy Van, U. of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada - To aid workshop on 'Anthropology in Vietnam,' 2007, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
'Anthropology in Vietnam'
December 15-18, 2007, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Organizer: Hy Van Luong (University of Toronto)
This international workshop was co-organized by the University of Toronto and the National University of Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City), with funding from the Ford and Wenner-Gren Foundations. It was the largest international forum for anthropologists working on Vietnam to date, attracting 77 anthropologists from 15 countries, and 66 Vietnamese ethnologists and anthropologists from all institutions of training and research in Vietnam. This conference took place in the context of unparalleled growth in anthropological research on Vietnam since the 1990s. The meeting was organized around three objectives: 1) to provide an important forum for intellectual exchange among scholars working in different traditions of inquiry; 2) to put anthropological research in Vietnam in a broader comparative perspective through the discussion of papers by senior anthropologists working in other geographical areas and by non-anthropologists working on Vietnam; and 3) to stimulate further research and curricular developments in Vietnamese ethnology and anthropology, especially as Vietnamese researchers seek to expand their training to include North American and Western European models
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.
Osborne, Dana Marie, U. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ - To aid research on 'Negotiating the Hierarchy of Languages in Ilocandia,' supervised by Dr. Norma Mendoza-Denton
Preliminary abstract: Situated in contemporary Philippines, this project explores the social and linguistic impacts that exclusionary language policies have had on speakers of the minority language of Ilocano. After decades of deliberation following national independence, the Department of Education, Culture and Sports instituted the Bilingual Educational Policy in 1974 which declared Filipino and English to be the national and official languages, respectively -- all other languages, specifically minority languages like Ilocano, were considered auxiliary or 'transitional', ineligible as mediums of literacy or instruction. This declaration had widespread and immediate impacts on minority language speakers, giving rise to a symbolic and material hierarchy of languages. Because of this historical backdrop, language has become one of the most salient signs of identity and of enduring national struggle in the Philippines; it is the foremost stage on which the complexities of social participation are negotiated. This project seeks to examine the ways that young Ilocanos are grappling with the hierarchy of languages with a special focus on the ways that these speakers produce, reproduce and contest the ideological material set into motion by the BEP. A systematic analysis of the social semiotic practice of spatial language among speakers will be carried out to determine the strength and directionality of any language change underlying contemporary language practices among speakers of Ilocano.
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.
Prentice, Michael Morgan, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Restructuring Corporations From Below: The Re-emergence of Hierarchy among South Korea's Conglomerates,' supervised by Dr. Matthew Hull
Preliminary abstract: In the wake of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis in Korea, IMF restructuring led to major economic and social overhauls across Korean society, including reforms to corporate governance among the country's infamous conglomerates. Subsequent restructuring was meant to root out the cronyistic and personalistic practices of the past and implement new models of transparency, accountability and efficiency suitable for global competition. This project explores how Korean office cultures and work practices have changed in the years since, especially as post-IMF reforms have become institutionalized. I look at this phenomenon through the particular lens of changes in Korea's military-like hierarchy system, long a symbol of corporate paternalism. Numerous conglomerates have sought to transform hierarchical divisions along egalitarian lines, from 'flat' organizational structures to equalized terms of address. My project takes an interactional approach to understand why and how office workers might resist efforts to make workplaces more equal. In fourteen months of Wenner-Gren-funded fieldwork in Seoul, South Korea, I will explore the plethora of institutional policies across South Korea's sixty conglomerates and observe how they are taken up in practice, especially across new modes of digital communication. I hypothesize that as 'flat' relations become implemented, Korean office workers may seek asymmetrical relations with other co-workers to cultivate a social insurance in a turbulent labor market. This project will elucidate broader anthropological concerns for social mobility, capitalist organization and the language of hierarchy.
Pritzker, Dr. Sonya Elizabeth, U. of California, Los Angeles, CA - To aid research on 'The Language of Personal Experience in China: Examining New Forms of Self-Oriented Chinese Medicine'
Preliminary abstract: This project is an ethnographic study examining the emergence of a new language of personal experience in China, specifically in the context of innovative forms of 'self-oriented Chinese Medicine.' Self-oriented Chinese medicine (CM) here refers to novel forms of Chinese medicine that integrate clinical psychology, biomedical psychiatry, New Age spirituality, and other popular healing genres in the creation of theories and practices geared towards the treatment of the disordered self and/or the promotion of self-realization, self-actualization, and self-transformation, all themes becoming increasingly popular in China. Data for the project will be collected at two major sites in China, including one institution where a hybrid form of self-oriented CM is being practiced and an alternative bookstore offering workshops on various forms of self-oriented CM to the public. Data will include participant observation, video, and audio-recording of workshops and healing interactions at these sites; in-depth, open-ended interviews with practitioners, patients, and consumers of self-oriented CM; and a survey of popular texts in the field. The overarching goal of the project is to answer the central research question, 'How is language used to express and manage the self in the hybrid and developing field of self-oriented CM?'
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.
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?