Hannah McElgunn

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Chicago, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9348

Approve Date

October 5, 2016

Project Title

McElgunn, Hannah Renee, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Translating Hopi: Language Revitalization, Knowledge and Property,' supervised by Dr. Justin Richard

Preliminary abstract: The notoriety of Hopis’ ‘secrecy’ concerning their cultural material is only matched, paradoxically, by the outsized role the Hopi language has played, in the hands of linguists and anthropologists, in theorization about linguistic relativity. This contradiction comes to the fore as scholars, the staff of the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office, and language teachers and learners are drawn together in efforts to revitalize the language. As these actors come together, the different projects through which they make claims to know, own and control the Hopi language collide. My project asks: in and against these other claims, how do Hopi tribal members attempt to translate a uniquely Hopi way of relating to language – as a kind of knowledge-property with concomitant privileges and duties – into the novel environments of language revitalization? Further, how are Hopi ethnolinguistic identity and the Hopi language reshaped through such translations? I address these questions through investigating three language revitalization nodes where this particular way of relating to language threatens to be undermined, and must be actively upheld: (1) the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office (2) off-reservation archives, (3) language classes and conversation sessions on the reservation. Through examining translation efforts across these three sites, my project sheds light on how Hopi ethnolinguistic identity emerges contemporarily, and also suggests the notoriously ‘secretive’ nature of Hopis may be less about closing off the Hopi world to outsiders than it is about expanding a Hopi regime of proprietary knowledge.