I am an Associate Professor of anthropology at Queens College, CUNY. My expertise is on semiotic and linguistic ideologies, specifically how these are mobilized in the process of state formation and the emergence of diasporic identities. My work relies on a discourse-centered approach to language and culture taking actual instances of language use and performative practices as the starting point of my ethnographic research. I combine this approach with an interest in practices of translation and semiotic transduction. I take translation practices as part of a more general process of transduction of political speech into political influence through the distribution of state resources. My book, Language and Revolutionary Magic in the Orinoco Delta (Bloomsbury Academic Press), explores the role of translation and transduction in the process of transforming oil revenue into political influence arguing that these are interconnected processes that help us understand the place of Warao speakers in the context of the Venezuelan public political sphere. Over the last year (2019-2020) I started a new research project in collaboration with Dr. Miki Makihara, funded by CUNY’s PSC-Research Foundation and a Research Enhancement Grant from Queens College, in which I explore linguistic intimacy in the Venezuelan diaspora both in Chile and the U.S. In this new project I will conduct a multi-site ethnographic investigation on the ways in which the largest migratory phenomenon in the hemisphere have produced new linguistic and semiotic practices.
Language, Culture and Society (Anth 104)
History of Anthropology (Anth 200)
Language and Identity (Anth 280)
Language and Politics (Anth 380)
Linguistic Subjectivities in Latin America (Anth282, LALS 206)
Winner of the 2021 New Voices Book Prize, Society for Linguistic Anthropology
“I Don't Know How People on Minimum Wage Make it”: The Semiotic Scaling of Political Crisis and Emotions in Venezuela. The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, 24: 518-535. https://doi.org/10.1111/jlca.12413
The National Anthem in Warao: Semiotic ground and performative affordances of indigenous language texts in Venezuela. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 26(3): 335-351.https://doi.org/10.1111/jola.12129
(Co-authored with Jonathan D. Hill) Language in Change: Discourse, Power and History in Amazonia. In Research Companion to Anthropology. Andrew J. Strathern and Pamela J. Stewart, eds. Ashgate Publishing, pp. 317-342.
The Interplay of Greetings and Promises: Political encounters between the Warao and the new indigenous leadership in the Orinoco Delta, Venezuela. Pragmatics 22(1):167-187.https://doi.org/10.1075/prag.22.1.07rod
"Tell Me Why My Children Died": Rabies, Indigenous Knowledge, and Communicative Justice by Charles L. Briggs and Clara Mantini-Briggs, Journal of Anthropological Research 74(2): 256-257. https://doi.org/10.1086/697654
Fluent Selves: Autobiography, Person, and History in Lowland South America. Suzanne Oakdale and Magnus Course (eds). Lincoln: University of NebraskaPress, 2014. 319 pp. Anthropological Linguistics. https://doi.org/10.1353/anl.2015.0000
Made-from-Bone: Trickster Myths, Music, and History from the Amazon. Jonathan D. Hill. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009. 195 pp. The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, 20: 379–381. https://doi.org/10.1111/jlca.12155
In Darkness and Secrecy: The Anthropology of Assault Sorcery and Witchcraft in Amazonia. Neil L. Whitehead and Robin Wright (eds). Durham: Duke University Press, 2004. 327 pp. Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 11(2): 487-488.https://doi.org/10.1525/jlca.2006.11.2.487