B.A., New York University; M.A., Ph.D., University of Michigan
Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Anthropology
Linguistic anthropologist, specializing in anthropology of Mexico and the U.S., migration and transborder communities, citizenship, indigeneity, language and social inequality, narrative, language ideologies, language planning, language shift and revitalization.
I recently joined the faculty of the Department Anthropology at Wellesley College as a Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow for 2012-2014. My research focus on the intersection of language, migration, and community grew out of my own life experiences living across linguistic, cultural, and national borders. Since the completion ofmy graduate work at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, I have been teaching, andam working on turning my dissertation, entitled: Migrant Stories: ZapotecTransborder Migration and the Production of a Narrated Community, into a book. This project is the outgrowth of ongoing fieldwork that Ihave been conducting in Oaxaca, Mexico and Los Angeles, California since 2008. Using the analytic lens of storytelling, I investigate how linguistic and cultural practices shape processes of transborder migration, and, conversely, how linguistic and cultural practices shape patterns of mobility.
My work demonstrates that for highly dispersed populations shared forms of narration, discursive patterning, and in particular reflexive forms of talk can be a powerful means of instantiating, and maintaining community. I argue that these discursive patterns and processes of circulation enable Guelavians in Oaxaca, Los Angeles and elsewhere to constitute a “narrated community.”The concept of narrated community offers an alternative to scholars who suggest that transnational migration erodes communities, creating “deterritorialized subjects,” by describing how the Guelaviantransborder community is maintained, while also emphasizing the challenges of fragmentation and transformation.
A priority in my work is to investigate the unique demands and consequences associated with membership in an indigenous transborder community. Scholars have suggested that indigenous and immigrant populations are scrutinized according to opposing logics; indigenous populations are expected to demonstrate their cultural authenticity, whereas immigrants are expected to integrate into the mainstream. Migrants and non-migrants alike must engage in “border thinking,” in order to assimilate multiple cultural frameworks, languages and modes of thinking. Narratives of experiences with marginalization and discrimination constitute another powerful form of community connectivity that binds Guelavians in diaspora to their kin back in Oaxaca. Through the close analysis of discursive practices my work provides new insights into how language-based prejudices operate in the context of a dispersed, highly mobile population.
I currently teach:
- The Power of Words: Language and Social Inequality in the Americas
- The Mexico of Anthropology
- Methods: The Tales that We and They Tell
- Immigration, Transnationalism andTransborder Communities