Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationIndian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar
Grant numberGr. 10141
Approve DateApril 8, 2021
Project TitleR, Vysakh (Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar) "Ecology and Ideologies of Language Loss: Making Sense of the Tsunami in the Nicobar Islands"
VYSAKH R, then a graduate student at the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India, received funding in April 2021 to aid research on “Ecology and Ideologies of Language Loss: Making Sense of the Tsunami in the Nicobar Islands,” supervised by Dr. Rishaant Choksi. This project looked at the relationship between ecological changes and language use in Teressa, and island belonging to the Andaman and Nicobar Island group, India. These islands were severely affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. This natural disaster caused major changes in the islands’ ecology, demography, as well as socio-economic structures, like reciprocal labor and kinship systems. These changes seem to have had an effect on how language is used and perceived by the people of this island. It would appear that since the 2004 tsunami, there has been a growing consensus that the language of Teressa is getting lost and is being replaced by the language of the neighboring island. During the course of the project, through multiple interviews as well as participant observation, it came to light that this discourse of language loss is an ideological stance that the islanders are using to negotiate with the changes in their socio-economic and cultural structures. In understanding the role of ecology and ecological change in relation to language, this project aims to contribute to the academic field of linguistic anthropology as well as the anthropology of climate change.