Consider Smell/Being Human 2015

18-21 November 2015

The Being Human 2015 travelling series of events Consider Smell Nottingham & London engaged with the human sense of smell across diverse geographic spaces and in the context of deep evolutionary time. Dr. Kara C Hoover (UAF) and colleague Matthew Cob (University of Manchester) talked about smelling at the molecular level while Julia Feuer-Cotter (University of Nottingham) and Kate McLean (Christ College Canterbury) talked about smell narratives and mapping. We also heard from Chris Kelly about relearning to smell and Fifth Sense charity for anosmia (those who have lost the sense of smell). Activities included smelling 'stinky man smell' and elephants to a smell walk of the streets of Kensington around Hyde Park. The event was partially funded by the Research Councils of the UK (Arts and Humanities). See Consider Smell for more details and upcoming events.

Tales from the Archives: Archival and Discourse Analysis and Alaskan flight pioneers

8 December from 1-2 in Bunnell 402

 End-of-Semester Potluck and "Tales from the Archives,"  December 8 ,  1-2pm , Bunnell 402. Linguistic Anthropology MA student, Della Hall, will talk about archival and discourse analysis research as "fieldwork" as she shares some of her research on the travel narratives of Alaskan flight pioneers.

Colloquium: Drones: Unmanned or Remotely Piloted? Metasemantic contests of power and precarious pilotdom in the language of the US military

3 December at 3:30 in Bunnell 302

Dr. Robin Shoaps will present  "Drones: Unmanned or Remotely Piloted? Metasemantic contests of power and precarious pilotdom in the language of the US military."

Tales from the Lab: Erin McAulay on ancient DNA and medieval Moravia

November 12 at 1-1:30 in Bunnell 402

Biological anthropology graduate student Erin McAulay will share "Tales from the Lab" (about her aDNA research in Great Moravia) in Bunnell 402. 

Two contemporaneous mitogenomes from terminal Pleistocene burials in eastern Beringia

Researchers have long wondered how people settled the Americas, particularly the path they took to the new territory and the timing of their expansion. Until recently, archaeologists studying these questions were limited mostly to digging up skeletons and artifacts.  But now scientists have begun extracting DNA from human bones, and the findings are providing new glimpses at the history of the first Americans. On Monday, researchers at the University of Alaska and elsewhere published an important addition to the growing genetic archive.  In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers reported that they had recovered DNA from two skeletons of children who lived in Alaska 11,500 years ago. The genetic material is not only among the oldest ever found in the Americas, but also the first ancient DNA discovered in Beringia, the region around the Bering Strait where many researchers believe Asians first settled before spreading through North and South America. Lead researchers on the project are at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (Ben Potter) and University of Utah (Justin Tackney and Dennis O'Rourke)

Colloquium: Changa Revisited: Thirty Years in the Life of a Maasai Family

Nov 12, 3:30-5 pm Museum of the North

Special Move Screening, Professor Len Kamerling will screen and discuss his film (made with Peter Biella), "Changa Revisited: Thirty Years in the Life of a Maasai Family" in the Museum of the North Auditorium, Thursday Nov 123:30-5 pm.

Harvey Shields Fellowship in Archaeology

The Harvey Shields Fellowship in Archaeology was established to benefit junior, senior or graduate students majoring in anthropology with a sub-disciplinary specialization in archaeology. Award amounts will be determined by the selection committee and awarded for the spring 2016 semester.

1. Recipient should demonstrate evidence of excellence in both the classroom and field and show a strong commitment to pursuing a career in archaeology.
2. Recipient must be a junior, senior, or graduate student in good academic standing at the University of Alaska Fairbanks during the spring 2016 semester.
3. Recipient must be majoring in anthropology with an emphasis on archaeology.
4. Recipients must enrolled full-time. 

Application Procedure
Please complete the Harvey Shields Fellowship in Archaeology application available at the UAF Anthropology Department Office or the UAF Financial Aid Office.
Return completed applications to:
Harvey Shields Fellowship in Archaeology
c/o UAF Financial Aid Scholarship Coordinator
107 Eielson Building
PO Box 756360; Fairbanks, AK 99775
fax 907-474-7065

Applications must be received(not postmarked) in the Financial Aid Office by 5:00 PM on November 30, 2015.

Questions? 474-6228 OR

Anthropology Society/Departmental Fall Potluck

We have decided to have our meet and greet on Friday the 23rd from 4:30-6:30 in Bunn 302. This will be a potluck! Come eat some good food, meet people in the anthropology department, learn about who we are as an organization, and just have a good time. Jessica Obermiller will be presenting on being a student researcher, reviving an URSA travel grant, and what she will be talking about at the AAA conference next month. Our meeting on the 21st will still be happening at 5pm in Bunn 302 to go over a few things. 

Anthropology Undergraduates travel to AAAs in Denver Colorado

Via funding from the UAF Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activity office, three anthropology undergraduate students will be presenting their research at the American Anthropological Association meetings in November 2015: Jessica Obermiller, Alta East, Claudia Cease. 
  • Jessica Obermiller received an URSA Travel Award to present her paper on  The Headscarf Project: Exposing Myself by Covering Up. 
  • Alta East received an URSA SUgR Summer Research Award for $5000 for the project Foraging Practices of Military Families in Alaska.
  • Claudia Cease received an URSA Spring Project Award $2400 for the Taboo of Mourning Germany 1939-1955 .

Annual Anthropology Photo Contest

Deadline: 15 October 2015

Please download the application, model release form, and submission details.

Dissertation Defense: Visual Artists Experiencing Nature: Examining Human-Environment Relationships (Amy Wiita)

15 October 2015 in Media Classroom UAF Library at 8:30 am

Colloquium: The Social Life of Political Institutions in Inuit Societies

8 October, 3:45-4:50, Bunnell 302

"The Social Life of Political Institutions in Inuit Societies" by Dr. Caroline Herve, Postdoctoral Research in Anthropology. 

Earliest evidence of ancient North American salmon fishing verified

Researchers in Alaska have found the earliest known evidence that Ice Age humans in North America used salmon as a food source, according to a new paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. For the full story, see here and here.

Reindeer Herding on the Alaska Peninsula

The latest Alaska Journal of Anthropology Vol. 12(2) 2014 was guest edited by Patrick Plattet and Amber Lincoln. Reindeer Herding on the Alaska Peninsula: A New Comparative Perspective contains contributions from the guest editors and others including AlexAnna Salmon of Igiugig, Davis Ongtowasruk and the late Faye Ongtowasruk of Wales, and UAF Anthropology PhD student Tayana Arakchaa. 

Colloquium: Digging up the (genetic) past: palaeogenomic surprises from human and bison studies

1st Fall Anthropology Colloquium, September 113:30-4:30 Bunnell 302
Dr, Bastien Llamas, from the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA at the University of Adelaide will be speaking on "Digging up the (genetic) past: palaeogenomic surprises from human and bison studies." 

NAGPRA Workshop, 3 Sept

Museum Cultural Collections Departments Offer Community Workshop on NAGPRA
The Archaeology and Ethnology & History Departments at the University of Alaska Museum of the North are coordinating a community workshop and discussion on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act at the Morrison Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center in Downtown Fairbanks on  Thurs. Sept. 3rd  between  1 to 3 pm .
This informal presentation and discussion will be facilitated by Joshua Reuther, Museum's Archaeology Department Curator and Assistant Professor in UAF's Anthropology Department, and will include panelists Claudia Nissley, Nissley Environmental Consultants, and Chris Wooley, Chumis Cultural Resources Services, who are National and Alaskan experts in the field of cultural resources and repatriation issues.

Gathering will celebrate Pat Kwachka’s life

Date: August 29, 2015 -August 29, 2015

Time: 1-2 p.m. or 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
Location: Brooks Building, Fairbanks campus

Friends will celebrate the life of Pat Kwachka, professor emeritus of anthropology, on Saturday, Aug. 29, at 3 p.m. in the Gathering Room of the Brooks Building.

Pat died on May 20 at her home in Cullowhee, North Carolina, where she and her husband, Jim Deitz, moved following her retirement.

After the events on campus, there will be a a potluck for friends and family at 1973 Kittiwake Drive. For more information, please call 479-5744. The obituary is available online at

BBC Radio 4 Inside Science: What Neandertals Smelt

BBC Radio 4's Inside Science (2  July 2015) features research led by Dr. Kara C. Hoover and a study on olfactory genetic variation and rebuilding ancient hominin noses.

Starting at 15:38 and running for ~8 minutes: "A team of scientists has just revealed how they've used genetics to scan the peoples of the world - and amazingly of extinct people from prehistory - to see who can smell what. They've used one particular olfactory receptor, called OR7D4, to build up a global map of what people can smell. Adam Rutherford speaks to Professor Matthew Cobb, from Manchester University to discuss how the different peoples of the world - including long extinct humans - smell different things."

Researchers show how our sense of smell evolved

The sense of smell plays a decisive role in human societies­­we use our noses to taste food as  well as identify pleasant and unpleasant substances. We have about 4 million smell cells in our  noses, divided into about 400 different types. Each cell has just one type of 'lock' on it – the smell  floats through the air, fits into the 'lock' and then activates the cell. A group of scientists led by Dr  Kara C. Hoover has studied genetic variation for one of these receptors or 'locks' which enables  us to detect a very specific smell called androstenone, a mammalian sex steroid produced in a  large quantities by pigs and found in boar meat.

People with different DNA sequences respond  differently to this smell ­ some people find it foul, some sweet, and others cannot smell it at all. Dr  Hoover's group studied DNA from over 2200 indigenous people from 43 populations around the  world, and looked at the part of their DNA that enables them to respond to androstenone. They  found that different populations have different gene sequences and therefore differ in their ability  to smell this compound. For example, they found that populations from Africa – where humans  come from – would tend to be able to smell it, while those from the northern hemisphere tend not  to.  Statistical analysis of the frequencies of the different forms of the OR7D4 gene from around the world, carried out by team-member Kara C Hoover, suggest that the different forms of this gene might have been subject to natural selection. One possible explanation of this selection is that the inability to smell androstenone was involved in the domestication of pigs by our ancestors  – andostroneone makes pork from uncastrated boars taste unpleasant to people who can smell it. Pigs were initially domesticated in Asia, where genes leading to a reduced sensitivity to androstenone have a high frequency.

The group also studied the OR7D4 gene in the ancient DNA from two extinct human populations, Neanderthals and the Denisovans, whose remains were found at the same site in Siberia, but who lived tens of thousands of years apart. The group found that Neanderthal OR7D4 DNA was like our own – they would have been able to smell androstenone. The Denisovans are a mysterious group of our extinct relatives – we do not know what they looked like, and they are known from only one tooth and a finger bone, from different individuals. Their DNA showed a unique mutation, not seen in humans or Neanderthals, that changed the structure of the OR7D4 receptor.

Team-member Hiroaki Matsunami at Duke University in the USA reconstructed the Denisovan OR7D4 and studied how this tiny part of a long-extinct nose responded to androstenone. It turned out that despite the mutation, the Denisovan nose functioned like our own. Both of our close relatives, like our early human ancestors, would have been able to detect this strange smell.

Frederick West (1928-2015)

Frederick H. West died peacefully at his home in Manchester, Vermont on May 26, 2015.   He was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1928 and was brought up in New Orleans. He joined the Marine Corps in 1945 and served in North China through 1946.  He completed his PhD at Louisiana State University in Human Ecology.  He served as a Professor in the Anthropology Department at University of Alaska Fairbanks from 1957 to 1966, later holding posts at University of Wisconsin, Madison, Alaska Methodist University, Anchorage, and Williams College, Williamstown, MA. He retired from the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA as the Director of Archeology.

The far north was the focus of his professional research, first with the Gwich'in people in the Brooks Range and then in prehistoric peoples in archaeological excavations, his main focus being sites in the Alaska Range foothills in the region of the Tangle Lakes, where he did some of the seminal work on the peopling of the New World.  His research culminated in the publication of American Beginnings, an edited volume with 58 authors half of whom where in the collapsing Soviet Union. Memorial donations may be made to the Bennington Museum, 75 Main Street, Bennington, VT 05201. 

Pat Kwachaa (1942-2015)

Pat Kwachka, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology (retired 2006), passed away on May 20, 2015. Dr. Kwachka received her PhD in Anthropology and Linguistics from the University of Florida in 1982 and served as a professor at UAF from 1979 to 2005. Dr. Kwachka gained a reputation around the world for her particular expertise in linguistic anthropology, especially in Choctaw as well as in several Alaska Native languages; and built a distinguished record of scholarship in more than two dozen books, chapters, articles, monographs and other publications; and shared her work in lectures and presentations at more than fifty conferences, meetings and training sessions throughout Alaska, the United States and the world.

Her obituary can be found here:

UAF Anthropology Department welcomes new Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Dr. Elaine Drew

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Elaine Drew as Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. As a sociocultural anthropologist, Dr. Drew's academic career has emphasized teaching and mentoring students from diverse backgrounds in anthropology, medicine, and the social sciences, as well as conducting culturally-based health promotion and intervention research with American Indian, Alaska Native, Latino, and African American communities. 

Dr. Drew is a medical anthropologist and applied anthropologist. Her research emphasizes a collaborative process involving community and academic partners who work together to share knowledge, resources, decision-making and accountability. She has collaborated on a wide range of projects, including a study of diabetes risk appraisal among Yup’ik communities in remote Alaskan villages; a culturally-based media intervention to reduce diabetes disparities among Latinos in Milwaukee; a culturally-tailored cancer prevention program among the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa emphasizing cultural knowledge and the celebration of the spirit; and a critical examination of biomedical perspectives on fatalistic health behaviors among rural women diagnosed with cervical cancer. 

In addition to research, Dr. Drew has considerable experience in cultural brokering and scientific diplomacy and often serves as a resource for other investigators on issues related to the cross-cultural translation, adaptation, and validation of study protocols and instruments. She is currently working on a study funded by the Greenwall Foundation that aims to revise the Belmont Report and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) research ethics regulations so that they effectively include and operationalize the ethical principles of community-engaged research. 

The UAF Anthropology Department is happy to welcome Dr. Drew. Her contact information will be on our website shortly. She is interested in working with new PhD and MA students on medical and applied anthropological topics.

Free Public Lecture TODAY: Climate Change and Human Land Use in Ice Age Alaska

April 23 at 6:00pm in the Museum of the North

Thursday, April 23, 6:00pm  at the Museum of the North 

Free Public Lecture by Ben A. Potter and Joshua D. Reuther

Dissertation Proposal Defense: Reindeer, Dogs, Horses, and Furs: A Critical Ethnography of Hunting Economies among the Tozhu of Southern Siberia (Republic of Tyva, Russian Federation) (Tayana Arakchaa)

5 May 2015 at 9am in Bunnell 402

Dissertation Defense: Wrestling, Archery, and Horse Racing in Buryatia: Traditional Sport Competitions as a Mirror of Social Change (Stefan Krist)

4 May 2015 in 302 Bunnell at 10am

Colloquium: Graduate Student Research Showcase

1 May 2015 in 302 Bunnell

Please join us for our annual colloquium highlighting graduate student research. Presentations last roughly 9 minutes per student.

Tentative schedule

3.30  Kelly Harrigan
3.40   Della Hall
3.50  Hanna Stewart
4.00  David Lukaszek
4.10   Nick Schmuck
4.20   Kaitlyn Fuqua
4.30   Davin Holen

Thesis Defense: Once upon a time: an anthropological exploration of two Gwich'in stories (Man in the Moon; The Old Woman and the Brushman) (Monika Frey)

1 May 2015 in Bunnell 402 at 10am

Thesis Defense: Natural Histories of Yup'ik Memoirs (Caroline Crecelius)

29 April 2015 in Bunnell 302 at 10am

Thesis Defense: A reconstruction of steppe bison (bison priscus) mobility in the yukon-tanana uplands and implications for prehistoric human behavior (Crystal Glassburn)

10 April 2015 in Bunnell 402 at 10am

Workshop on DEER Study: 9-10 April in Port Heiden

Patrick Plattet and Amber Lincoln will be conducting a workshop in the community of Port Heiden April 9th and 10th, reporting on their findings from their research project titled, The DEER Study, Documenting the Ethnohistory and Ethnoarchaeology of Reindeer Herding on the Alaska Peninsula. Research collaborators from seven Bristol Bay communities will participate as will DEER Study collaborators from the Katmai National Park and Preserve, NPS in Anchorage and King Salmon. Please see our website for more information, the DEER Study, 

Thesis Defense: Exploring the relationship between diet and osteoporosis in medieval Portugal using stable isotope analysis (Sharla Luxton)

APRIL 8 2015 at 8am in BUNNELL 402

This project investigates the relationship between health and diet in medieval Portugal by combining data on the occurrence of osteoporosis with information on past diet derived from stable isotope ratios. The aim of this project is to identify whether different sources of protein influenced the prevalence of osteoporosis in three populations. Individuals from three different regions of Portugal were previously evaluated for bone mineral density at the University of Coimbra, Portugal, and bone samples from 79 of these individuals underwent stable isotope analysis at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Collagen suitable for isotopic analysis was extracted from all individuals and indicated a negative correlation between bone mineral density (BMD) and nitrogen isotope values for females at one site and a positive correlation for males at another site. These results, combined with the lack of a clear relationship between BMD and nitrogen values for the other subgroups, suggest a complicated relationship between dietary protein source and the occurrence of osteoporosis. While samples sizes are small, the data indicate that future analysis is warranted, particularly considering the high incidence of osteoporosis and the economic and individual strain of the disease.

Evan Charles: A Celebration of Life

2 April 2015, 5:30 Wood Center Ballroom

Please see here for the details regarding the Celebration of Evan Charles' life.

UAF presentations at the American Association of Physical Anthropologists

25-28 March 2015


1 Anthropology/Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks,  2 Anthropology, Georgia State University

Variation in regional diet and mandibular morphology in prehistoric Japanese hunter-gatherer-fishers

Previous research has identified a relationship between mandibular morphology and diet (e.g., coarse diets result in more robust mandibles). Prehistoric Japan is an excellent place to explore the significance of this relationship in shaping mandibular morphology due to the pronounced regional dietary variation. South/West Honshu Jōmon engaged in broad spectrum foraging, Northeastern Honshu Jōmon were fisher-gatherers, Hokkaido Jōmon were maritime (sea mammal) foragers, and the immigrant Okhotsk maritime (sea mammal) foragers with some rice. We test the hypothesis that diet variation across temporal and spatial zones will be reflected in mandibular morphological traits. Metric measurements were utilized to test for regional differences with both archaeological time period and biological sex as covariants. ANOVA results for region with time period as a covariate indicated all variables except corpus height and breadth are significantly different among regions but for the time period covariate, significance is only present for corpus breadth and the dimensions of the ascending ramus. ANOVA for region with biological sex as a covariate indicates all variables except corpus height are significantly different. Biological sex as a covariate only rarely demonstrates significant p-values. Generally, North Hokkaido, followed by Southwest Hokkaido exhibit the largest mandibles whereas South/West Honshu have the smallest. Multivariate analysis indicates a separation between North Hokkaido and South/West Honshu. Differences in mandibular morphology are better explained by regional diets than by temporal trends and biological sex.


1 Department of Anthropology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2 Natural and Cultural Resources, Tanana Chiefs Conference.

Bone collagen stable isotope analysis of three late Holocene humans from Interior Alaska

Three prehistoric human skeletons were uncovered at the Tochak site near the inland Alaskan community of McGrath on the Upper Kuskokwim River. The skeletons include an adult male (35-40 years), a younger adult male (19-20 years) and a child (2-3 years). Direct radiocarbon dating suggests an age of 1,000 years cal. BP. Ethnohistorical reports suggest that the indigenous Athabascan people of this region were mainly hunters, rather than fishers, but paleodietary studies have never been conducted in interior Alaska. Carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analysis ( δ13C and δ15N) was conducted on bone collagen from the humans, and on faunal remains from a youngercomponent (ca. 350 cal BP), including domestic dog, bear, beaver, and freshwater fish. For the humans, δ15N values are relatively high and remarkably similar (15.2-15.3‰). The δ13C values are also similar in the adult and subadult males ( -18.8‰ and -18.4‰, respectively), but slightly lower in the child (-19.6‰). The human carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios are elevated over those of the prehistoric bear from the site, and are consistent with a diet that included a substantial proportion of marine-feeding animals, such as anadromous salmon found in interior Alaskan rivers. Two dog specimens from the younger component also show elevated δ13C and δ15N values consistent with a salmon-rich diet. These results suggest that fish, including salmon, were a critical resource for late Holocene populations in west central Alaska, both for human consumption and for dog provisioning, and contradict historical accounts of a subsistence emphasis on terrestrial mammals.

Lecture by Caroline Hervé: The construction of Inuit Leadership in Nunavik (Arctic Quebec, Canada)

30 March in Schaible Auditorium at 6pm

For more information, please see the abstract here.

Ben Potter to speak at the Yukon Science series

Transformations in Subarctic Prehistory: Ice Age Infants, Ancient Houses, and the Peopling of the New World

Ben Potter will present at the Yukon Science Institute lecture series, Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, on March 15th, 2015. The title of the talk is "Transformations in Subarctic Prehistory: Ice Age Infants, Ancient Houses, and the Peopling of the New World." 

Thesis Completion Fellowship Applications due Friday, 13 March

For more information and application materials for students in their final semseter or year, see here. Preference is normally given to PhD students but a few one-semester fellowships for MA students are awarded depending on the applicant pool.

David Koester to speak at GSRL in Paris

On  Tuesday, March 10 , David Koester will be presenting "Sources of Spiritual Power in Orthodoxy and Indigeneity in Rural Kamchatka, Russia" in the lecture series “Religions and Societies in Asia” of the research group “Societies, Religions, Secularisms” GSRL – CNRS/EPHE. In Paris, 10-12:30. 

Colloquium: Werewolves of the Sea: Human-killer whale (Orcinus orca) relationship in the North Pacific

Tobias Holzlehner (Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg)

Monday 9 March at 3:30 pm in Bunnell 302 

North Pacific mythology and sea-mammal hunting practices reflect on a close relationship of mutual exchange between humans and orcas. Imagined as a shape shifter that switches seasonally between wolf and whale form, orcas play a pivotal role in maritime hunting communities past and present. Tracing human-orca relationships along the Pacific Rim shows not only a common mythological substrate and an intricate human-animal relationship that developed over hundreds of years, but furthermore sheds light on how humans relate to other sentient and highly intelligent beings outside of their own species.  Comparing indigenous knowledge with the understanding behavioral ecology and evolutionary biology have about orca communities reveals distinctive epistemologies, which yet come to surprisingly similar conclusions.

Geist Fund at UAF Museum

We are pleased to announce the request for proposals for the 2015 Otto William Geist Fund. The fund was established by Otto Geist in 1963 for the explicit purposes of:

  • Acquisitions of archeological or paleontological material for the University.
  • Financing in whole or in part expeditions for archaeological or paleontological field research.
  • Scholarships or fellowship grants for students majoring in anthropology (archaeology) or paleontology. 
Funding for individual awards can be up to $3,000. PROPOSALS ARE DUE NO LATER THAN  FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2015. Decisions on awards will be announced by  MONDAY, April 13, 2015. Please download the attached information on the Fund, the application, and the guidelines for proposals.

Dulce Tentación (Sweet Temptation): A Culturally-Based Media Intervention to Improve Diabetes Prevention among Latinos in Milwaukee

NEW DATE: February 27 from 3:30-5:00 in Rasmussen 340 (Media Classroom)

Elaine Drew (Community-Campus Partnerships for Health) is a finalist for a faculty position in EPSCoR and the Department of Anthropology. In this presentation, Dr. Drew will give an overview of her academic background and action research orientation, describe a recent diabetes study to serve as an example of her approach to research, and end with a discussion of future goals. In the example study, Dulce Tentación (Sweet Temptation), Dr. Drew led a community-academic research team to create and test a culturally appropriate and theory-based Spanish-language teledrama to improve diabetes prevention among Spanish-speaking Latinos residing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The study team administered the 1-hour media intervention to participants (N=125) who completed pre-post surveys assessing diabetes knowledge, health attitudes, and behavioral intentions. Participants also provided information on demographic factors, health history, and level of acculturation. In the analysis, all survey responses were dichotomized as “correct” or “incorrect” and were analyzed using McNemar’s test to assess whether, among those responses that changed from the pre-test to the post-test, responses were more or less likely to shift from correct-to-incorrect than from incorrect-to correct. The results showed the greatest positive changes occurring in diabetes knowledge, with most items indicating knowledge improvement. While two knowledge items did show a negative intervention effect, the vast majority of transitions in all categories of the survey were “positive,” even when the differences were not statistically significant.

URSA-SUgR (Summer Undergraduate Research) Award Opportunity

UAF undergraduate students are invited to apply for one of ten URSA SUgR awards of $5,000 (to fund student salary, stipend, tuition and/or supplies). Any undergradute student with good academic standing and a commitment from a faculty mentor is eligible for funding. Funding will cover activities conducted between June 1 and August 21, 2015. The project may extend beyond August 21, but funding must be spent by that date.  The application deadline is February 27, 2015.

Click on this link to download a copy of the SUgR Request for Proposals.

Click on this link to download a copy of the SUgR Award Application Form.

Applications must be emailed to by February 27, 2015. Award winners will be notified by email and announced on this website by March 13, 2015. Students may apply for more than one URSA award.

Water and Waste in Bolivia: Assessing the Relationship between Local Communities, New Infrastructure, and Environmental Change

February 13 from 3:30-5 in Bunnell 302

Maryann Cairns (Social Science Environmental Health and Research Institute, Northeastern University) is a finalist for a faculty position in EPSCoR and the Department of Anthropology. Locally relevant design and implementation of alternative strategies for water delivery, wastewater treatment, and contaminant/nutrient management is key to addressing both human health risk and environmental change. In this talk, Cairns explores the relationship between local Bolivian communities and water and sanitation infrastructure development by evaluating enviro-social, political, and practical concerns surrounding system efficacy and access. 

Ecological and Reproductive Decision-Making in Northern Eurasia

February 9 at 4-5:30 in Rasmussen 340 (Media Classroom)

John Ziker (Boise State University) is a finalist for a faculty position in EPSCoR and the Department of Anthropology. Dr. Ziker will will present the results of three recent analyses: a study of social norms using experimental games; a study of interhousehold food sharing; and a study of variability in men’s reproductive success. The majority of families in a community on the Taimyr Peninsula in northern Siberia are dependent on subsistence hunting, fishing, and trapping and have been part of a vertically integrated industrial economy in a remote area of the former Soviet Union. The results of behavioral  games conducted in 2003 are discussed in light of social norms for cooperation and fairness. In the second study a network of post-procurement food distributions from the same community is explored to describe underlying patterns of stability. The interplay between traditional ecological knowledge about sharing and access to resources and the observed sharing behavior is discussed. Given widespread food sharing and prosocial norms in the community, the final analysis explores the effects of variability in resource flows on men’s reproductive decision-making to look at the effects of inequality. A series of material, embodied, and relational wealth indicators are tested as predictors of men’s age-adjusted RS and age at first birth. These studies bring together a variety of methods and elements important to socio-ecological resilience in northern Eurasia. 

Sveta Yamin-Pasternak and Collaborators Publish in Current Anthropology

Sveta Yamin-Pasternak and co-authors published an article on the Bering Strait societies and cuisine in the journal Current Anthropology. The article focuses on the marine mammal products and other foods prepared by methods of fermentation. It explores how the experiences of taste and smell, as well as the social standing of these foods, connect with the contemporary identities and wellbeing among the Chukchi and Yupiget of Alaska and Northeastern Russia. Ten prominent scholars commented on the impact of this work for the research on cultural vitality, diet, sensory processes, and colonialism in the Arctic. The article is featured in the October 2014 issue of Current Anthropology, together with the commentators remarks and the author response. Sveta Yamin-Pasternak currently teaches four cultural anthropology courses and works on several research projects in Alaska and the Russian Far East. She has been Assistant Research Professor at UAF since 2011, holding a dual appointment at the Institute of Northern Engineering and Department of Anthropology. The article co-authors are Andrew Kliskey and Lillian Alessa (University of Idaho), Igor Pasternak (University of Alaska Fairbanks), and Peter Schweitzer (University of Vienna and Professor Emeritus at the Anthropology Department, UAF).  

Stormy Fields Awarded URSA Grant

Anthropology student Stormy Fields was awarded an URSA grant for Spring 2015 to measure the changes in stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes throughout a lake core from Blair Lakes, around 20 miles south of Fairbanks. The changes in stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes will provide a proxy of lake productivity over the last 12,000 years in the Tanana Valley. Stormy's results will be compared to other paleoenvironmental records near by Blair Lakes, including pollen and plant macrofossils, to reconstruct an environmental context to interpret changes in prehistoric human occupancy of the Tanana Valley. Stormy's primary mentor is Matthew Wooller at the Water and Environmental Research Center and Alaska Stable Isotope Facility. Her secondary mentors are Nancy Bigelow at the Alaska Quaternary Center and Josh Reuther in Anthropology.

David Koester: Itelmen Resistance and Religiosity in the Flux of Russian and Soviet History

David Koester (University of Alaska Fairbanks, Visiting Senior Researcher at GSRL, UMR 8582 CNRS/EPHE) will be speaking in the Seminar Religions de l’Asie septentrionale et de l’ArctiqueItelmen Resistance and Religiosity in the Flux of Russian and Soviet History on Tuesday 13 January 2015, 11:00 - 13:00. EPHE, bâtiment Le France, salle 124, 190 avenue de France, PARIS 13e. 

Murdock Institute technology grant brings Next-Generation Sequencing instrumentation to UAF

Anthropology Faculty Dr. Hoover CoI on project

The new year will bring an extremely fast, highly accurate, and very inexpensive next-generation DNA sequencer to University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists and students. Housed in the Institute of Arctic Biology’s DNA Core Lab managed by IAB microbiologist Mary Beth Leigh, the NGS technology will increase the pace of research, promote faculty recruitment, retention and competitiveness for funding, and help educate the future generation of life scientists. The instrument purchase was made possible by grants from the UAF Technology Advisory Board (PI Eric Collins) and the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust (PI Mary Beth Leigh with CoIs R..Eric Collins, Jiguo 'Jack' Chen, Andrea Ferrante, Karsten Heuffer, Kara C. Hoover, and Link Olson).

MA Thesis Defense: Patrick Hall

Functional Comparisons Between Formal and Informal Tools Sampled from the Nenana and Denali Assemblages of the Dry Creek Site [no abstract available]

Dec 12th at 11 am in Bunnell 301A

Eat what you smell: patterns of global variation in human olfactory receptors

Kara Hoover is giving a talk in the Linguistics Department at Radboud University (Nigmegen, Netherlands) on her research conducted in collaboration with colleagues in the Evolutionary Genetics Department the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig (where she is currently a Visiting Scientist). The talk will be held on 3 December and focuses on variation in genes that control the sense of smell--particular attention is paid to those genes that are closely linked with food odors such as malt, meat, and fruits. 

The Shaman, the Saint and the General Secretary as Historical Effects in the Social Dynamics of Life in Rural Kamchatka

David Koester is the recipient of a research grant in the program “Research in Paris” sponsored by the city of Paris, Office of the Mayor. Through this program he is a senior visiting researcher with a group called “Groupe Société, Religion, Laïcité,” under the auspices of the French National Research Center (GSRL UMR 8582 CNRS—Centre national de la recherche scientifique) and affiliated also with the Ecole pratique des hautes études.  His project, entitled “The Shaman, the Saint and the General Secretary as Historical Effects in the Social Dynamics of Life in Rural Kamchatka” continues in Paris for four months, November to February.

Arctic Roundtable Discussion - The Peopling of the Americas

Arctic Roundtable DiscussionFriday, November 14 at 5:30pm in AKST

An evening of discussion and discovery exploring the times, routes and lives of the first humans to inhabit North America. Co-hosted by the Arctic Institute of North America - Alaska and the National Park Service. Panelists include:
Dr. David Meltzer: Henderson-Morrison Professor of Prehistory, Southern Methodist University
Dr. Dan Mann: Professor of Geography, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Dr. Ben Potter: Professor of Anthropology, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Mike Kunz: BLM Archeologist, BLM Arctic Field Office

MA Thesis Defense: Erin Dinneen

23 October, 8am, Bunnell 402

Amber Lincoln's ethnographic installation "History Felt" (3-7 December in Washington DC)

Amber Lincoln's ethnographic installation, History Felt, will be part of the Ethnographic Terminalia's 2014 exhibition, titled, The Bureau of Memories: Archives and Ephemera, at the Hierarchy Gallery in Washington, DC. Ethnographic Terminalia is organized as part of the American Anthropological Association annual meeting. 

Anthropology Colloquium: David Meltzer 13 Nov 3:30 Bunnell 302

Folsom adaptations and Younger Dryas environments in the Rocky Mountains

Dr. David Meltzer (SMU), Thursday, Nov 13, 3:30-5 PM at Bunnell Rm 302.

Folsom adaptations and Younger Dryas environments in the Rocky Mountains. The Upper Gunnison Basin on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains is, today, one of the coldest regions in the continental United States. It was surely just as cold at the tail end of the Pleistocene. Yet, there is now evidence Folsom Paleoindian groups, whose geographic range was long thought to have been largely restricted to the Great Plains, occupied the Upper Gunnison Basin during the Younger Dryas. Excavations in the last dozen years at several high elevation localities in the basin, particularly the Mountaineer site, coupled with paleo-ecological investigations at cave and lake sites in the basin, provide insight into Folsom adaptations and environments. Not least, these results yield a rare glimpse into what these otherwise highly mobile hunter-gatherers did when they stopped.

Dr. Meltzer's visit is sponsored by the Arctic Institute of North America.

URSA Research Showcase: Joshua Reuther

Prehistoric Landscapes and Humans in Alaska
Joshua Reuther, Curator of Archaeology at UA Museum of the North, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology
Wed, October 8, 5:30pm – 6:30pm, UAF Schaible Auditorium

Anthropology Society

The Anthropology Society meets Mondays at 4:40 in the Nook, 319 Bunnell. 

PhD Prospectus Defense: Shiaki Kondo

Time: September 26th (Fri) 10 am. Place: Bunnell 402. Prospectus Title: Hunters, Christians and Native Americans in Alaska: An Ethnography of Spirituality in the Upper Kuskokwim Region

Anthropology Department Orientation

For all new and returning graduate students, please attend the Anthropology Department Orientation at 3pm on 5 September in Bunnell 302.

Tenure-track position in Social/Cultural Anthropology

The Department of Anthropology at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks is soliciting applications for a full-time tenure-track faculty position in Social/Cultural Anthropology at the Assistant Professor level. Applicants must have earned a Ph.D. in Anthropology or a closely related field of social science. The successful applicant will be expected to establish an independent externally funded research program and will have a reduced teaching load of two courses per year during the first three years. During the first three years at UAF, the successful applicant will serve as a social science member of the interdisciplinary Alaska Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), Northern Test Case research team, which is examining the adaptive capacity of human communities in changing Alaskan environments. Applicants are encouraged to consult the Alaska EPSCoR website at The University of Alaska is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
Please see the full description for details and how to apply.

Anthropology PhD Students receive Artic Social Sciences DDRIs

Congratulations to our PhD students for successful dissertation improvement grants on Northern Adaptations in Kamchatka (Russia): Fishing for Dogs or Fishing for Snow (Lisa Strecker) and Reindeer and Dogs in Modern Tozhu Mixed Economy of the Republic of Tyva (Russia) (Tayana Arakchaa).

MA Thesis Defense: Fawn Carter

May 8, 10:30 am (402 Bunnell)

Josh Reuther, research talk at Center for Applied Isotope Studies, University of Georgia (May 13th)

Josh Reuther is giving an invited research talk entitled Human Occupation and Paleoecology of Late Glacial and Early Holocene Interior Alaska on  May 13th  at the Center for Applied Isotope Studies at the University of Georgia. The talk will focus on the archaeology and changes in ecology in the Tanana Valley between 16,000 and 8,000 years ago. Visit the Center for Applied Isotope Studies facebook page for more information.

Undergraduate Research Day, Tuesday April 29

Stop by the Wood Center Multi-level Lounge between 10am-2pm to see research posters by anthropology majors Ana Fochesatto and Meaghan Trevena. Ana's poster is about catcalls and street compliments in Latin America and Meaghan's is about verbal aggression among girls.

Public lectures by candidates for the Ethnology Curator position at the Museum of the North and Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Megan Smetzer
Monday April 7: 3:30 pm  – Public lecture, 302 Bunnell  (Co-opting the Cooperative: Tlingit Women's Beadwork at Mid-Century)

Amy Phillips-Chan
Friday April 11: 3:30 pm   – Public Lecture, Bunnell 302 (Inupiaq Narratives Reanimate Objects of Cultural Heritage and Beauty: A Community-based Approach to Knowledge Production) 

Katrin Simon-Sakurai
Wednesday April 23: 3:30 pm   – Public lecture, Bunnell 302 (Noise and the Thickening Earth: The Power of Stories in an Alaskan Yup'ik Community)

Amber Lincoln
Tuesday April 29: 4:00 pm  – Public lecture, Bunnell 302 (Mementos [Paisat], Museums and Meanings: Restoring relations among Inupiaq ethnographic collections in Great Britain)

Anthropology Society Triva/Pizza night: May 3 at 5pm (302 Bunnell)

The Anthropology Society is having a Trivia/Pizza Night to celebrate the end of the semester.  The Trivia Night will be on Saturday May 3rd at 5pm in Bunnell 302.  Pizza will be provided and we encourage all of you to come take part! We hope to see you all there to help us celebrate in the semester ending!

These defense: Dental caries prevalence in ancient Egyptians and Nubians

Konstantine Triambelas. Please see abstract here.

Anthropology Open House

Please join us 27 February all day for open house activities in our new space in Bunnell Building. For a map of campus, see here. For parking information, see hereTaku & Nenana lots have kiosks for ticketing as well as regular shuttle service to Wood Center and Eielson, respectively. Bunnell is a short walk from our old building (Eielson) and a slight longer walk from Wood Center.

Anthropology Brown Bag!

March 4 in Bunnell 301A from 1-2

Lisa Strecker and Tayana Arakchaa will be presenting dry runs of their Alaska Anthropological Association meetings presentations on Tuesday March 4 in 301A from 1-2. 

Fellowship! Geist fund

The Otto William Geist Fund was established by Otto Geist in 1963 to support:

-Acquisition and conservation of archeological or paleontological material for the University.
-Financing in whole or in part expeditions for archeological or paleontological field research.
-Scholarships or fellowship grants for undergraduate and graduate students in archaeology or paleontology. Proposals from other fields are considered if strongly tied into these disciplines.

Application Deadline: March 29, 2013

Anthropology Brown Bag!

February 20 in Bunnell 301A from 1-2

Cecelie Ebsen will be presenting a dry run of her Alaska Anthropological Association meetings presentations on Tuesday March 4 in 301A from 1-2. 

Graduate School Travel awards

To apply for a travel grant, travel must begin before July 1 of this year. There will be another competition for travel after July 1 later.

Anthropology Coloquium: February 21st, 3:30 PM in Room 302 Bunnell

Current Upper Paleolithic & Mesolithic Research in Cis-Baikalia, Russia, Dr. Alekesi Teten'kin

Cis-Baikalia, Russia Anthropology Colloquium Several sites dating to the final Pleistocene/Early Holocene (12,500-6,000 14C BP) have recently been discovered in the lower Vitim River Valley (Cis-Baikalia, Russia). The artifacts recovered from these sites are assigned to three assemblage types.  Two resemble the Paleolithic Dyuktai, while the third features microblade production using prismatic cores of high-quality chert, which is indicative of the Mesolithic. Recent evidence suggests the origin of prismatic microblade core technology may have occurred within Dyuktai-like Paleolithic assemblages, but wedge-shaped microcore manufacture was also present in the Mesolithic assemblage. These data permit the formulation of new hypotheses that consider function and adaptation as driving forces of variability during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition.

Anthropology Coloquium: February 7th, 3:30 PM in Room 302 Bunnell

Babylonian Astronomy Under Arctic Skies, Dr. Wayne Horowitz

This presentation takes a look at an ethno-astronomy project on the traditions of  the First Peoples of northern Canada and the peoples of ancient Mesopotamia. An expert in reading cuneiform astronomical tablets dating as early as 3000 BC, Professor Horowitz is searching for links with oral traditions in northern Canada. For more information, contact Brian Hemphill at or call 474 - 6755

David Koester co-organizes Symposium on Comparative Studies of Indigenous Cultures around the North Pacific Rim

David Koester is co-organizer of a “Symposium on Comparative Studies of Indigenous Cultures around the North Pacific Rim” at the National Museum of Ethnology in Osaka, Japan, January 11-13, 2014.  He is speaking at the symposium on January 12.

Funded Master’s Degree Positions to Study the Gender and Change at University of Alaska Fairbanks

University of Alaska Fairbanks is seeking to recruit a graduate student interested in pursuing a Master’s (or Ph.D.) degree at the University of Alaska Fairbanks with a research focus on gender and change in Arctic Alaska. Student funding is provided by a research grant from the National Science Foundation. Successful applicants will be offered two years of funding, including a stipend of approximately $28,000/year, field research, tuition, benefits, and research expenses.

We are particularly interested in students with backgrounds in the human dimensions of environmental systems or environmental anthropology. Please click here for more details and information on how to apply.

2014 Field School in Subarctic Archaeology: Mead Site

Dates: May 19 to June 21

Mead site is a multicomponent site consisting of at least 4 components dating from 14,000 to 1,400 years ago in deeply buried stratified contexts in the mid Tanana Basin, near Delta Junction, Alaska.  This site has received little investigation given its importance in the early prehistory of northwest North America, but initial excavations have yielded lithic tools, organic tools, and faunal remains from multiple components. Along with Broken Mammoth and Swan Point, this is one of the oldest sites in northwest North America, and indeed in the Western Hemisphere. The presence of faunal remains and lithic artifacts within stratified contexts provides an opportunity to document patterning in site use and test hypotheses about technology, subsistence, and settlement of ancient populations in Interior Alaska. 

For more informationon the 2014 field schoolclick here.

Alaska Anthropological Association Meetings in Fairbanks

Call for papers

The 2014 meeting will be held at the Wedgewood Resort, 212 Wedgewood Drive, Fairbanks, Alaska 99701 (452-1442). Workshops will be held on Wednesday, March 5 and the conference will begin that evening with an opening reception at the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum (located on the conference grounds).

Call for Sessions, Papers, Posters, and Workshops Anthropology and art are diverse subjects in their own right but are closely intertwined on many levels. Anthropology and Art--the theme of the 41st Annual Meeting of the Alaska Anthropological Association--is intentionally broad and was chosen to explore the multiple interconnections of Anthropology and Art. The theme may be applied to the past or the present, and to Native or Non-Native topics.Presenters, as well as workshop and session organizers are encouraged to develop sessions, papers, posters, and workshops that incorporate the theme of the interface of anthropology and art; however, as always submissions that relate to any of the four fields of anthropology are welcome. In keeping with the conference theme, the use of a range of media is encouraged for all presentations.

The deadline for submissions for sessions, papers, posters and workshops is January 1st, 2014. Abstracts are limited to 100 words or less. For more information, please visit the annual meeting website.

Kara Hoover interviewed for Scientific American blog on pheromones and mating

Kara Hoover interviewed for Scientific American Mind blog post by Julia Calderone on human pheromones and pheromone parties.

Ben Potter gives three talks in China on Beringian archaeology

2013 GIS Modeling and Intersite Variability in Eastern Beringia. Special Lecture to Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Prehistory, Chinese Academy of Sciences. December 20, 2013, Beijing, P.R. China. 

2013 Site Structure and Organization in Eastern Beringia. Special Lecture to Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Prehistory, Chinese Academy of Sciences. December 11, 2013, Beijing, P.R. China. 

2013 Traces from Northern Forests: An Emerging Synthesis of Beringian Prehistory. Special Lecture to Institute of Global Ethnology and Anthropology and Ethnic Minority Study Center of China. December 5, 2013, Beijing, P.R. China.

Ben Potter gives a talk at the Paleoamerican Odyssey Conference

2013 Technology and Economy Among the Earliest Prehistoric Foragers in Interior Eastern Beringia. Paper presented at the Paleoamerican Odyssey Conference. October 17, 2013, Santa Fe, New Mexico. (with Charles E. Holmes, and David R. Yesner) 

David Koester participates in an Indigenous Mapping Workshop

December 5-8 David Koester participated in an Indigenous Mapping Workshop jointly sponsored by Google Earth Outreach and the University of Arizona through a National Science Foundation grant, Ben Colombi, PI.  The workshop brought indigenous students and scholars from Kamchatka, Russia both to learn about creating maps using Google Earth tools and techniques and to work with researchers to plan indigenous mapping projects over the next year.  

2014 Symposium on Comparative and Collaborative Studies of Indigenous Cultures along the North Pacific Rim

National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka Japan (12 January 2014)

“Historical Trajectories and Contemporary Issues:  Comparative Studies of Kamchatka Peninsula” David Koester (University of Alaska Fairbanks)

Despite differences in culture and language and vast differences in political histories in the 20th century, there are many similarities in the fates of indigenous peoples on both sides of the North Pacific.  Some of the similarities are based on parallels in the surrounding environment at corresponding latitudes.  Some occurred as a result of political resemblances of 18th to 20th century colonial practices.  Others occurred because of shared technological and economic legacies of the industrial revolution.  This presentation outlines the history and contemporary position of the peoples of Kamchatka in relation to developments and issues on the eastern side of the North Pacific.

Kara Hoover gives two research talks on human olfactory evolution

Univeristy of Alaska Anchorage and the University of Cincinnatti

My olfactory population genetics research engages with the long-standing assumption that the sense of smell has little to no functional significance in primate (and particularly) human evolution. Yet, there is tremendous genetic, geographic, and cultural variation in olfactory perception. The field of olfactory science is young—the receptors were discovered in 1991—and there are currently few known genotype-phenotype relationships established. Of the ones that are known, most of them are related to diet and food preference. My research on allelic frequency variation OR7D4 serves as the first link between perceptual/cultural and microevolutionary factors shaping the distribution and diversity of human olfactory receptor genes. OR7D4 is an olfactory receptor associated with sex pheromone detection and pig meat preference. I found significant differences in human populations with more variant alleles occurring in Eurasia: 34% of Europeans and 47% of Asians are not sensitive to androstenone. Less sensitivity to androstenone is correlated with increased preference for pig meat. An interpretative narrative to this analysis is the long prehistory of pig hunting and domestication in Asia, where pork is a stock food item today.

UAF Anthropologists at the AAAs in Chicago

David Fazzino, session co-chair with Ethan Sinsabaugh (UAF)
The Occupy Movement Is Dead, Long Live the Occupy Movement!
Wednesday, November 20, 2013: 9:15 PM  Conference Room 4L (Chicago Hilton)

The Occupy Movement in the United States started as a response to economic policies that exacerbated disparities between social classes. The Occupy Movement was propelled by rational actors who demanded economic equality through a variety of means, most notably the physical occupation of public land. During this, the Occupiers were being portrayed in the media accounts as upper-class urban campers who had a vague notion about what they were protesting. Whereas this might have been an accurate portrayal of some I encountered in my two years as a participant of the Occupy Movement, in reality there were a variety of reasons fellow “campers” shared with me for their participation. In addition to my two years as a participant observer, I conducted semi-structured interviews with ten of the most active occupiers in three different settings (Phoenix, Arizona, Fairbanks, Alaska, and Rochester, New York). This paper explores four facets of the Occupy Movement's inner-workings: 1. The physical layout of the protest sites, 2. The internal economy within the Occupy Movement, 3. The informal political infrastructures within Occupy, and 4. The role social media had in regards to the distribution of information and ideas.

David Koester, paper
To Speak Or Not to Speak, and Other Existential Questions: Discussions On the Itelmen Language By the Few Who Speak It
Thursday, November 21, 2013: 3:15 PM, Chicago Hilton, 5E
When the number of speakers of a language dwindles and speech events in that language become socially marked occasions, the waning language and even ‘language’ as an abstract concept can become objects of discussion. At the same time, practitioners of an ‘endangered language’ can be steadfastly resistant to seeing their means of speaking as ‘language’, that is, as an abstract system that enables humans to communicate. There are now less than 10 fluent, confident speakers of the Itelmen language of Kamchatka, Russia. In the summer of 2012, the healthy and able among the confident speakers were brought together for eight days of discussions and documentation. This paper examines the metalinguistic and metadiscursive aspects of those discussions. In questions ranging from orthography to linguistic authority to language variation, participants in the workshop expressed a range of views. They mentioned the power of language transmission over time, the nostalgia associated with childhood use of the language and its association with ancestors, the social and personal value of song, the authority of linguists and a series of other revealing pronouncements about the status of ‘the language’ as fewer and fewer people speak Itelmen.

Robin Shoaps, paper
K’iche’ formal pronouns at the crossroads of theological tension, linguistic anxiety and cross-linguistic discursive circulation in Sakapultek evangelical discourse
In the past decade, use of K'iche'-derived formal pronouns (lal/lanh and alaq/laq) has gained traction in the diminishing realm of Sakapultek-language evangelical Christian radio broadcasts and sermons. Formal pronouns, which are not native to the Sakapultek language (Du Bois 1981), have conventionally appeared in traditionalist oratory and prayers directed at Maya deities and in ritualized greetings between married people and their godparents and in-laws. In this paper, I approach the evangelical embrace of lal as a window into contemporary theological, linguistic and ethnic difference which become prominent only in local Maya, not Spanish-language, evangelical prayer. I demonstrate that linguistic ideologies about respect erase the seeming incongruity between Spanish language Christian prayer practices (which involve the informal pronoun in addressing God) and apparently “necessitate” the (clumsy) incorporation of K'iche' formal address forms in Sakapultek. I draw from my research among K'iche' Pentecostals to suggest that increasingly emphatic K'iche' discourses about the importance of lal use in divine address reflect anxiety about linguistic and cultural change, and play into long-standing Sakapultek ideologies of linguistic inferiority. These K'iche' and Sakapultek linguistic ideologies, coupled with increased intercommunity contact between K'iche' and Sakapultek-speaking evangelicals and widespread circulation of K'iche' evangelical discourse have set the scene for Sakapultek evangelicals to adapt formal pronouns in prayer. Lal use has gone hand-in-hand with valorization of a once-despised immigrant K'iche' population and the elevation of a hybrid K'iche'-Sakapultek-Spanish register into a communicative ecology that once condemned salient code-switching.

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