Rosalie Edmonds

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, Los Angeles, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9455

Approve Date

April 25, 2017

Project Title

Edmonds, Rosalie B., U. of California, Los Angeles, CA - To aid research on 'Language Ideologies, Conservation Ideologies: Multilingualism and Collaboration in Transnational Environmental Work,' supervised by Dr. Paul Kroskrity

Preliminary abstract: The proposed research explores the role of language in environmental conservation through analysis of the everyday communicative practices that occur at a Cameroonian wildlife sanctuary. In Cameroon, logging, unsustainable forms of agriculture, and wildlife trafficking are leading to the loss of some of the oldest rainforest in Africa and the extinction of numerous threatened species. For twenty years, the Limbe Wildlife Centre (LWC) in southwestern Cameroon has cared for and reintroduced hundreds of these animals into the wild. Daily activities at the LWC highlight tensions between local people and international NGOs, each with different ideas about how Cameroon’s natural resources should be used. Multilingualism is an essential component of the LWC’s work, as staff use some of Cameroon’s 280 indigenous languages alongside French and English, and international visitors bring other languages to the already fraught work of wildlife conservation. In this way, the conservation of Cameroon’s biological diversity requires a negotiation of its linguistic diversity. The proposed project uses ethnographic and linguistic approaches (including participant observation, interviewing, and conversation analysis) in order to: a) assess the effects of ideologies about language and conservation on collaboration at the LWC; b) describe the language practices of staff, volunteers, and visitors; and c) identify the frequency and forms of miscommunication that occur during work activities. Analysis of communication at the LWC will contribute a new perspective on urgent global problems like conservation which are increasingly negotiated in transnational, multilingual settings.