Robin Shoaps

Office: 305B Bunnell
Phone: 907-474-6884
Email: rashoaps @

As a linguistic 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 gets beyond what can be unearthed by interviews and participant observation. Using language 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 semiotics, one of the frameworks in my arsenal, has much to offer cultural anthropologists and archeologists. 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 interpretation of things ranging from grammatical structures, narratives and interviews to the semiotic use of space and material culture.

In my own research I use my methodological and conceptual toolkit to investigate core issues of anthropological and ethnographic interest: personhood, subjectivity, kinship, ritual, religion and morality. I explore these things in my primary fieldsite in highland Guatemala, where I have done extensive research with two ethnolinguistic groups, the K'iche' and Sakapultek Maya. I have also pursued research with North American evangelicals and US conservative talk radio. I draw from my research in my teaching and have offered courses on linguistic anthropology, sociolinguistics, the language of religion and ritual, discourse analysis, the cultural construction of the self, and political media.