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UCLA Institute of American Cultures

Title: Professor
Department: Anthropology
Email: paulvk@ucla.edu

Current Project(s):

  • I have three social justice projects that relate to my current research. One of these is a Dictionary Project for an Indigenous language spoken in Northern Arizona. My IAC Grant, "Designing a Dictionary for Tewa Youth", continues documentation work designed to produce the first writing system and practical dictionary for a linguistic minority in the Village of Tewa who live on the Hopi Reservation. I consider this social justice related because all Native American languages were suppressed in a state effort to eliminate them in policies of forced assimilation. By creating resources for formerly oppressed languages, this project attempts to give the Village of Tewa supporting materials in an effort to revitalize its heritage language. My other project involves a reanalysis of traditional narratives from Western Mono--an indigenous language of Central California. This research exposes patterns of covert linguistic racism directed at Indigenous communities by linguists, folklorists, and anthropologists of the salvage era who represented these narratives as the products of an artless, primitive culture. My research, based on my own ethnography, and linguistic research with some of the remaining highly fluent speaker, re-analyzes these narratives and recontextualizes them within the Western Mono social and aesthetic orders. My third project is a collaborative one to be discussed below involving the creation of the Oxford Handbook of Language and Race. This is a scholarly attempt to organize a large number of researchers who treat language and race in various ways and to produce a volume dedicated to better understanding the often neglected role of language(s) in the creation of racial categories and processes of racialization.

Tagged: Linguistic Anthropology, Education, Youth Justice, Language Revitalization, Decolonization