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
DANA M. OSBORNE, then a student at University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, was awarded funding in April 2012 to aid research on 'Negotiating the Hierarchy of Languages in Ilocandia,' supervised by Dr. Norma Mendoza-Denton. Situated in contemporary Philippines, this project explores the social, linguistic, and cognitive impacts that changing language policies have had on speakers of one of the most spoken minority languages in the country, Ilocano. In the massively multilingual milieu of the Philippines, language policies have defined languages appropriate for school (and citizens)-in 1974, the Bilingual Education Policy (BEP) declared Filipino and English to be the national and official languages respectively and all minority languages to be auxiliary or 'transitional.' The Department of Education finally determined the BEP to be a failure and began to selectively reintroduce the mother tongue in schools to bridge growing gaps between speakers of minority languages and those with native command of Filipino. In this way, language is a salient sign of enduring national struggle and it is the foremost stage on which the complexities of social participation, belonging and identity are negotiated. This project examines the ways that young Ilocanos negotiate languages with a special focus on the social semiotic practice of spatial language among speakers to determine the strength and directionality of any language change undergirding contemporary language practices.
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?
Zuckerman, Charles Henry Pearson, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'The Ethics of Exchange: Gambling and Interaction in Luang Prabang, Laos,' supervised by Dr. Michael Lempert
Preliminary abstract: Over the past twenty years, Luang Prabang (LPB), the once royal capital of Laos, has shifted from sleepy socialist hamlet to global tourist destination. The city's inhabitants have reacted to the influx of money and new forms of exchange with a mixture of desire and moral trepidation. My research studies how actors in LPB morally evaluate these new forms of exchange during face-to-face interaction. In 12 months of research, I will primarily investigate two forms of exchange--gambling for beer and gambling for money--as they occur in the popular game pétanque, which resembles bocce. Pétanque began to soar in popularity in LPB in the late 1990s and continues to grow as the Lao socialist state lifts many of its restrictions on gathering and gambling and embraces market capitalism, foreign investment, and tourism. Many people explicitly associate beer-gambling with the state, civil servants, and a distinctively 'Lao' and 'good' way of sharing. Conversely, they associate money-gambling with workers in the tourist sector and an increasingly common 'foreign' and 'immoral' way of consuming. I have chosen to study pétanque gambling because of its popularity, because of its morally fraught status, and because debates concerning the morality of the two forms of gambling appear to crystalize debates concerning new ways of making and spending money in LPB more generally. I am studying these exchanges with methods for studying face-to-face interaction because I predict that an attention to ordinary interaction will reveal the multiple modalities and methods through which exchanges become moral practices in the first place. More broadly, I anticipate that such an approach will shed light on the ethical domain itself.
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
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.