Robin Shoaps

Robin A Shoaps, Associate Professor with joint appointment in Linguistics Shoaps, R
PhD, University of California, Santa Barbara, 2004.

Phone: 907-474-6884
Office: Bunnell Building 312
Lab: Digital Ethnography Lab Bunnell Building 309



Linguistic anthropology, ritual language, discourse, power, semiotics, ethnography of morality, stance, human-animal relations, political media; Mesoamerica and the United States


Research and Teaching Interests: 

As a linguistic and cultural anthropologist I am animated by thinking about language as a cultural resource. I liken my training and outlook to a “toolbox” that allows me to investigate cultural formations in a way that extends and enrichens what can be unearthed by interviews and participant observation. Using language structures as a lens—and discourse analysis as a tool—illuminates how the form of an utterance or speech event can “say” and “do” in ways that are meaningful beyond its content. I also believe that Peircian semiotics, one of the frameworks in my arsenal, has much to offer cultural anthropologists and archaeologists. I am enthusiastic about working with students whose interests are not only firmly centered in linguistic anthropology, but also those who seek advising on research design, field methods and analyzing meaning-making and semiotic processes in communicative resources ranging from grammatical structures, narratives and interviews to the semiotic use of space and material culture.

In my own research I investigate topics of enduring anthropological and ethnographic interest: personhood, gender, subjectivity, kinship, ritual, religion and morality. I engage these topics in a longstanding and active research program in Guatemala, where I have done extensive research with two ethnolinguistic groups, the K'iche' and Tujaal (Sakapultek) Maya. I have also chased language use in North America: with Assemblies of God congregations and I have an ongoing research program on stance-taking in conservative political media. Since coming to UAF in 2012, I have conducated ethnographic fieldwork among Alaska dog mushers, done some Gwich’in language study and a bit of archival, linguistic and ethnohistorical research on the arrival of Protestant Christianity in the Copper River Valley. 

I direct the Digital Ethnography Lab, which is used by Anthropology students who seek to collect ethnographic multimedia data. The newly launched workshop/colloquium series, Discourse and Digital Ethnography Roundtable course provides an interdisciplinary venue for faculty and students to “workshop” discourse data.

Recent Course Offerings:

  • Individual, Society and Culture (ANTH 100X)

  • Fundamentals of Linguistic Anthropology (ANTH 260)

  • Language, Thought and Action (ANTH F631)

  • Discourse in Society: Analyzing Language in Social Context (ANTH 435/635)

  • Language and Power (ANTH 492/ LING 411)

  • Virtual Ethnographic Field School (ANTH 370, with Dr. Platter)

  • Language and Gender (ANTH 308)

  • Human-Animal Relations in the Circumpolar North (ANTH 492/692, with Dr. Plattet)

  • Discourse and Digital Ethnography Roundtable (ANTH 492/692)