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Title: The Afterlives of Language: Chiwere Preservation as a Revitalization Movement
Authors: Schwartz, Saul
Advisors: Lederman, Rena
Hammoudi, Abdellah
Contributors: Anthropology Department
Keywords: Chiwere
language endangerment
language ideology
language preservation
revitalization movements
Subjects: Cultural anthropology
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: In response to the problem of language loss, anthropologists, linguists, and tribal members have long worked to preserve Native American languages through documentation and revitalization. Advocacy within and beyond academic linguistics beginning in the 1980s has led to renewed visibility and opportunities for those involved in indigenous and minority language research and activism across the globe. Against this background of increased concern and support for projects to save endangered languages, my dissertation examines current efforts to preserve Chiwere (Ioway and Otoe-Missouria) and other Siouan languages. I interpret these efforts as recent examples of revitalization movements. Based on twelve months of formal participation observation fieldwork, interviews, archival research, and my own long-term collaborative involvement in Chiwere preservation, the dissertation analyzes collaboration and conflict among intersecting social networks dedicated to documenting and revitalizing Chiwere and other Siouan languages and lifeways. Community linguists, language activists, and educators in dialogue with academic researchers and tribal members use literacy, metalexical speech genres, and translation to imbue Chiwere with social and cultural significance. By comparing how and why these diverse practitioners and constituencies value Chiwere with rhetoric used to promote Native American language preservation in advocacy and policy settings, I show how anthropologists, linguists, and community members circulate and challenge discourses and ideologies about language and culture. The dissertation integrates ethnographic literature on language preservation with longstanding anthropological attention to revitalization movements. It explores the nostalgic, aesthetic, symbolic, and ideological dimensions of language preservation and describes language revitalization in terms of three related themes. First, language revitalization is a social movement saturated with elements of nostalgia and aesthetic appreciation. Second, language revitalization involves a symbolic approach to language whereby recovering a language is associated with broader social and cultural effects. Third, language revitalization is a generative practice for constructing and contesting language and culture ideologies. I conclude that documentation, revitalization, and other forms of remembering and valuing heritage languages renew and reshape social relationships and cultural practices following language loss. Languages have significant symbolic afterlives in which they contribute to processes of cultural creativity and identity formation even after they cease being spoken in everyday communication.
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Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Anthropology

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