Chiara Barbieri

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Max Planck Institute

Grant number

Gr. 9395

Approve Date

April 18, 2017

Project Title

Barbieri, Dr. Chiara, Max Planck Institute, Jena, Germany - To aid research on 'Using Genomics to Test Models of Language Diffusion: A Case-study on Quechua Diversification'

Preliminary abstract: Language diversification is shaped by demographic history, as well as by how culture, social structures and ecology influence human interaction. In this project I take as a case study the diffusion and diversification of the most widely-spoken language family of the entire Americas: Quechua. I will compare linguistic data from a wide range of Quechua varieties with the genetic data of the diverse populations who speak them, to explore the impacts of demography and of other cultural factors on the past processes that shaped their present linguistic diversity. The diffusion of Quechua languages has traditionally been associated with the expansion of the Inca empire, or in some cases with the Spanish colonial regime and its promotion of Quechua as a language of evangelization. Archaeological and linguistic contexts, and early Spanish chronicles, have been interpreted to suggest an important role either for demographic spread or for cultural diffusion. This scenario can be tested with the help of molecular anthropology to reveal the magnitude of both the demographic expansion and the level of admixture with autochthonous populations. This project will employ the latest technology to sequence full genomes and additional SNP chip genotyping of a sample from target populations of Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, speakers of multiple different regional forms of Quechua. Furthermore, by comparing these modern data with available ancient DNA, we will be able to pinpoint genetic signals of admixture much more precisely in time and space. The high-resolution genetic data will be integrated with linguistic data (phonological and lexical), creating a bridge between molecular anthropology and historical linguistics and a powerful test-case of demographic and cultural interaction.