Events

October 2, 2019 at 7:45 pm

Linguistics Colloquium | Intimate Grammars of Public Testimony: Ethnographic and Linguistic Approaches to Ixil Maya Discourses of War and Immigration, Oct. 18

María Luz García, portrait

Dr. María Luz García

The Institute for the Empirical Study of Language and Linguistics Colloquium Series presents Dr. María Luz García discussing “The Intimate Grammars of Public Testimony: Ethnographic and Linguistic Approaches to Ixil Maya Discourses of War and Immigration,” on Friday, Oct. 18, from 2to 3 p.m. in Alden Library 319.

García is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology at Eastern Michigan University.

Abstract: In 2013, Ixil Maya testimony was crucial to the conviction of former de facto head of state, José Efraín Ríos Montt, for crimes against humanity and genocide. However, miscommunications plagued the trial as a result of diverging forms of speech that are deeply connected to different identities and ways of experiencing and understanding history. The recognition of these Ixil ways of speaking is grounded in analysis of both the linguistic resources available to Ixil speakers and Ixil understandings of shared experiences. Similar miscommunications have come to characterize Ixil interactions in U.S. institutions as Ixil people have immigrated to the United States in increasing numbers, with large Ixil communities settling in rural Ohio. As these Ixil speakers find themselves enmeshed in legal and other U.S. institutional contexts, the intimate grammars of narratives of immigrant experiences are lost in these foreign contexts. In this paper I reflect on linguistic and anthropological methodological approaches to understanding Ixil Maya discourses of historical memory and more recent discourses about immigration in legal contexts.

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