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Department of Anthropology pres.

The Michigan Anthropology Colloquia Series: "Figure (of Personhood) Drawing: Pictorial Representations of Signing and Signers in Nepal"

Erika Hoffmann-Dilloway, Associate Professor & Chair, Anthropology, Oberlin College and Conservatory

"Nepali Sign Language (NSL) has primarily been represented in print through pictorial images of signing persons. This talk draws on long-term ethnographic research with Nepali signers to explore the affordances of drawings for representing and generating linguistic form, reference, connotation, and entanglement with other modes of semiosis. I focus specifically on post-Maoist Civil War changes in visual representations of the figures of personhood portrayed performing signs in NSL texts; the role of both drawings and the act of drawing in recent initiatives to include previously marginal elderly novice signers into deaf life; and my own efforts to follow deaf artists in incorporating drawings into my toolkit for recording, analyzing, and sharing representations of signing practices. Across these contexts, how does the production and interpretation of pictorial images function as a resource for creating indexical icons that can performatively call forth new conditions? In addition to analyzing social change among deaf networks in Nepal, this talk shows that ethnographic attention to drawing can contribute to conversations about how linguistic anthropology can forge connections with visual anthropology in order to help our research processes and products embody our commitment to analyzing multimodal total semiotic facts."

The Michigan Anthropology Colloquia Series presents speakers on current topics in the field of anthropology

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