Edited by Alan Durston and Bruce Mannheim
This volume makes a vital and original contribution to a topic that lies at the intersection of the fields of history, anthropology, and linguistics. The book is the first to consider indigenous languages as vehicles of political orders in Latin America from the sixteenth century to the present, across regional and national contexts, including Peru, Mexico, Guatemala, and Paraguay. The chapters focus on languages that have been prominent in multiethnic colonial and national societies and are well represented in the written record: Guarani, Quechua, some of the Mayan languages, Nahuatl, and other Mesoamerican languages. The contributors put into dialogue the questions and methodologies that have animated anthropological and historical approaches to the topic, including ethnohistory, philology, language politics and ideologies, sociolinguistics, pragmatics, and metapragmatics. Some of the historical chapters deal with how political concepts and discourses were expressed in indigenous languages, while others focus on multilingualism and language hierarchies, where some indigenous languages, or language varieties, acquired a special status as mediums of written communication and as elite languages. The ethnographic chapters show how the deployment of distinct linguistic varieties in social interaction lays bare the workings of social differentiation and social hierarchy.
Contributors: Alan Durston, Bruce Mannheim, Sabine MacCormack, Bas van Doesburg, Camilla Townsend, Capucine Boidin, Angélica Otazú Melgarejo, Judith M. Maxwell, Margarita Huayhua.
“A formidable work of interdisciplinary scholarship, this collection of essays showcases some of the most groundbreaking research currently conducted by linguists, historians, and anthropologists on five different indigenous languages of Latin America still widely spoken today. Spanning from the sixteenth century to the present and from Mexico to Paraguay, passing by the Andes, the essays are a must-read for scholars of Latin America and for anyone concerned with the role played by language in the workings of power, domination, and cultural colonization. I also recommend it to policymakers.” — Cecilia Méndez, University of California, Santa Barbara
“This volume will undoubtedly be an outstanding contribution to the historical and cultural study of indigenous languages in Latin America. Ambitious in theoretical scope but rigorous and rich in detail, most chapters address issues that have not been properly treated in the literature before and will fill gaps in our knowledge of social history of indigenous languages, especially in regard to writing.” — Sergio Romero, University of Texas at Austin
“This rich collection presents eight engaging studies of indigenous languages across the Americas, their complex histories and important presence today. Alan Durston and Bruce Mannheim not only have assembled a fine set of essays but also provide a valuable introduction to the study of indigenous languages past and present, a state of the field (or fields) critique that deserves a broad readership.” — Charles Walker, MacArthur Foundation Endowed Chair in International Human Rights, University of California, Davis