Rodriguez, Juan Luis, Southern Illinois U., Carbondale, IL - To aid research on 'Rhetorical Strategies and Gift Circulation in the Politics of The Orinoco Delta, Venezuela,' supervised by Dr. Jonathan David Hill
JUAN LUIS RODRIGUEZ, then a student at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, received funding in May 2007 to aid research on 'Rhetorical Strategies and Gift Circulation in the Politics of the Orinoco Delta, Venezuela,' supervised by Dr. Jonathan D. Hill. This study analyses political discursive strategies and gift circulation in the Orinoco Delta, Venezuela. This is a semiotic and discourse-centered study on how the Warao indigenous population interacts with political representatives from the Venezuelan government. This study is based on a yearlong fieldwork focusing on political speeches and observing how political gifts are circulated. Research focused on public political events in which politicians, governmental representatives, and communal council's members perform public political discourses. During this year, the grantee followed the constitutional referendum of December 2007 and the organization of the 2008 regional election in the Orinoco Delta, as well as the development of the Morichito communal council in the Lower Delta. This helped in evaluating how gift circulation and political discourse intersect as semiotic strategies. The purpose of this research is to further advance the discourse-centered approaches to cultures developed in South America by addressing the ways in which discursive sign vehicles interact with other semiotic forms, especially political gifts. This type of analysis is central to understand recent political processes occurring among the Warao, as well as the general political climate of Venezuela since 1998 (the rising of President Hugo Chavez Frias).
Hanna, Dr. Judith L, Bethesda, MD - To aid preparation of personal research materials for archival deposit with the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, Washington, DC - Historical Archives Program
Keeling, Simon R., U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'The Poetry and Music of Conflict: Exploring Bamileke Funeral Performance,' supervised by Dr. Judith T. Irvine
SIMON R. KEELING, then a student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, received funding in May 2005 to aid research on 'The Poetry and Music of Conflict: Exploring Bamileke Funeral Perform-ance,' supervised by Dr. Judith T. Irvine. This research explored the meanings of music, poetry, and place among Bamiléké members of music and finance associations in Bangangté, Cameroon. The grantee attended the weekly meetings and rehearsals of some such groups, and arranged private music and language lessons. Attending and performing at mourning rites are among the most important func-tions of the groups. Music was recorded at rehearsals, lessons, and performances. Most song texts con-cerned: 1) responsibility to kin; 2) death, ritual, and the afterlife; or 3) the connections between ritual, kin-groups, and villages. The third theme includes traditions of naming which include both 'given' names and predictable names based on these connections. Decisions about which name to use when seem to be a significant poetic resource. Consultants' talk about villages and values demonstrated that the near-sacred spaces of village farms are crucial to how they understand power, beauty, and ethics. Working with micro-financial institutions showed that Bangangté is a place where the emotional intensity of poverty and gen-erosity is entangled with that of ritual and place. Making music together is neither tangential nor superfi-cial to such complexities; it develops, contains, deepens, permits and celebrates intimacy and affective in-tensity. All of this was going on in a context also shaped by a discourse of 'modernity' which cast 'village' practices in a negative light. Therefore, the Bamiléké of Bangangte are engaged in struggles for prestige which run through music and daily life.
McComsey, Melanie, U. of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA - To aid research on 'Bilingual Spaces: Socialization to Spatialized Practice in Spanish and Juchitán Zapotec,' supervised by Dr. John B. Haviland
MELANIE McCOMSEY, then a student at University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, was awarded funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Bilingual Spaces: Socialization to Spatialized Practice in Spanish and Juchitán Zapotec,' supervised by Dr. John B. Haviland. This project offers a fresh perspective on the classic problem of linguistic relativity associated with Humboldt, Sapir, and Whorf. It draws on ethnographic and semi-experimental linguistic data collected over two years of fieldwork with bilingual speakers of Spanish and Juchitan Zapotec, an Otomanguean language spoken in Juchitan, Oaxaca, Mexico. Because the languages differ in their spatial grammar, and because the speakers differ in their bilingual proficiency in the two languages, the researcher was able to investigate whether different cognitive styles are related to specific linguistic codes. Research found that some changes in spatial cognitive style are happening independently of changes in the grammars of Spanish and Zapotec. This suggests that ways of thinking about space may not be coupled to individual linguistic codes, but can vary as part of a local system of practice and communication. It was also found that embodied interactions with the rapidly modernizing built environment in Juchitan affect how children learn particular styles of spatial problem solving. This project contributes to the fields of linguistic relativity and language contact, showing how multiple worldviews are created and lived through practice within a single speech community.
Rosa, Jonathan Daniel, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Learning to Hear a Nation’s Limits: Language Ideologies and Ethnoracial Subjectivity in U.S. High Schools,' supervised by Dr. Susan Gal
JONATHAN DANIEL ROSA, then a student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, received funding in May 2007 to aid research on 'Learning to Hear a Nation's Limits: Language Ideologies and Ethnoracial Subjectivity in U.S. High Schools,' supervised by Dr. Susan Gal. This grant supported twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork carried out between 2008-2009 within a newly created Chicago public high school whose student body was more than 90 percent Mexican and Puerto Rican. Observational, interview, and linguistic data include ongoing observations of more than 90 students, teachers, and administrators in the field site, as well as 40 in-depth interviews with students, teachers, and administrators. These data track: 1) the school's efforts toward transforming students; 2) students' shifting ideas about ethnoracial categories; and 3) the social sites in which distinctions between 'Mexicans' and 'Puerto Ricans' were undermined by emergent 'Latino' sensibilities. This research shows how processes of ethnoracial category making take shape as dialectic counterparts in relation to which language and literacy were understood and practiced in this field site. In particular, the linguistic findings reveal: 1) the profound redefinition of bilingualism as disability and 'languagelessness;' 2) students' strategies for escaping linguistic stigmatization; and 3) the semiotic operations that reduced students' expansive symbolic repertoires to criminality. This analysis of language and ethnoracial identity suggests the broader potential for people to look like a language and sound like a race across cultural contexts.
Boltokova, Daria, U. of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada - To aid research on 'Betwixt and Between: Studying Processes of Language Hybridization among Sakha Youth,' supervised by Dr. Patrick Moore
Preliminary abstract: In my research, I am theorizing processes of language hybridization through an ethnographic study of generational differences in the linguistic practices of Sakha people residing in Russia's far northeast. Most accounts of linguistic hybridity in anthropology frame hybrid language use in terms of 'code-switching' and 'code-mixing' on the assumption that speakers remain fluent in the languages they combine. Less considered are the cumulative effects of prolonged switching and mixing on fluency itself, particularly across generations. I ask: When and how do processes of hybridization like mixing and switching lead to the emergence of novel hybrid language practices? To an