[PAST EVENT] Anthropology Brown Bag: Dr. Josh Shapero

October 24, 2018
12pm - 1pm
Washington Hall, Room 101
241 Jamestown Rd
Williamsburg, VA 23185Map this location
Access & Features
  • Open to the public

"The ground beneath our words: Landscape, embodiment, and language in the Cordillera Blanca mountains of Peru."

All human communication makes meaning by virtue of its relationship with assumptions about the world shared by participants?their ?common ground??hence difficulties such as effectively signaling stores of radioactive waste to human populations ten thousand years from now, or even working across political boundaries to prevent environmental catastrophe today. One way of defining linguistic anthropology could be as the study of the scope and motivation of such variability in common ground. In this talk, I focus on a kind of common ground constituted by habitual engagements with physical (natural-cultural) environments. Drawing on linguistic, ethnographic, and experimental research with Ancash Quechua speaking farmers and herders in the Cordillera Blanca mountains of Peru, I show how grammar, cognition, and manual gesture conspire to incorporate familiar landscapes in human bodies. This kind of embodiment allows the habitual engagements of humans with their environments to provide the scaffolding for everyday communicative practice. At the same time, I hope to make a convincing case that shifts in environmental culture?such as urban migration and nature conservation?can directly shape language structure and practice