Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationCalifornia, Berkeley, U. of
Grant numberGr. 10489
Approve DateApril 6, 2023
Project TitleArms, Nicolas (Berkeley, U of California) "Coyote’s firewood: Indigeneity, colonialism, and the language of human-environment relationships in southwestern North America"
Widely depicted as instruments of botanical and zoological classification, systems of vernacular plant and animal names constitute one of the few cultural phenomena routinely assumed by scholars to delimit the knowledge they serve to express. Focusing on the fact that agriculturalists, but not hunter-gatherers, tend to name plants and animals in ways resembling the conventions of Linnaean nomenclature, most accounts of variation in this domain have portrayed it as evidence that the replacement of foraging by agriculture is best understood as a natural course of development in the history of vernacular scientific understanding. Through fieldwork with speakers of Cmiique Iitom ‘ a language of coastal Sonora long recognized as an exception to the pattern in question ‘ together with archival research on eight other Indigenous languages of southwestern North America, this dissertation project develops an alternative theory that variation across systems of plant and animal names is shaped most directly by migration, colonialism, and Indigenous persistence. As part of a broader critique of stadialism in the study of human-environment relationships, the project aims in particular to show that antiquity of habitation ‘ not lack of agriculture ‘ is what best explains the features characterizing this domain of representation among hunter-gatherers.