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The EASA network on Linguistic Anthropology (ELAN)

The network was founded by Dr Laura Siragusa and Dr Jenanne K Ferguson at EASA in Stockholm in 2018. With this network, we aim to create a space for those scholars interested in Linguistic Anthropology and who are either working in European academic institutions, conducting research in Europe, or have an interest in cooperating with European scholars.

Linguistic Anthropology has a long history in the North American academic tradition, where it has established itself as one of the four main branches of Anthropology along with Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, and Cultural Anthropology. Anyone interested in language as social and cultural phenomenon is well acquainted with the work of such figures as Franz Boas, Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf, the founders of Linguistic Anthropology in the North American context. Even though anthropologists in Europe were simultaneously conducting groundbreaking work on language (see, for example, Malinowski 1935), this sub-discipline never quite developed as strongly there, possibly due to existing strong national traditions of other disciplines, such as Linguistics, Folklore Studies, etc. (Nic Craith and O’Rourke 2015) and the political turmoil, which affected Europe in the first half of the 20th century.

Studying language practices, ways of speaking and writing, verbal and non-verbal communication, and bilingual and multilingual practices is particularly relevant now, given that Europe (but not only) is experiencing fast changes in terms of both demographic and linguistic diversity, and environmental crisis, which are challenging the way we use language. Our work encompasses a study of indigenous and non-indigenous languages and how they are used socially and culturally in relation to a given language ecology (Garner 2004; Mühlhäusler 2000). The latter comprises non-human persons and the agency they have on human communicative practices.

ELAN sets itself the goal to shed light on the above-mentioned socio-cultural issues, bringing language and its creative and relational capacity in the spotlight. We hope that this network will be of use to sociocultural/social anthropologists hoping to incorporate new approaches to language in their work.