Fixing the Books: Secrecy, Literacy, and Perfectibility in Indigenous New Mexico

Erin Debenport, Assistant Professor of Ethnology, Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico

Colloquium, SAR Boardroom

Wednesday, June 24, 2015, 12:00–1:00 pm, Free

Erin DebenportErin Debenport2010 Christopher Smeall Summer ScholarErin Debenport2010 Christopher Smeall Summer Scholar

Using ethnolinguistic examples from over ten years of fieldwork at a New Mexico Pueblo, Dr. Debenport traces the history of tribally-directed indigenous language literacy used as part of local language revitalization efforts. Choosing to write an indigenous language is especially controversial in Pueblo settings where there is great emphasis placed on controlling access to cultural knowledge and materials. Following the negotiations behind the creation of a tribal alphabet, community dictionary, and the eventual end of this community experiment with Native language literacy, Debenport connects her findings to theories of secrecy and indirectness, perfectibility and refinement, and indigenous subjectivities in Pueblo and other contexts.

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