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Research & Publications (For a more complete list of publications, click on "CV")




2009a Crying Shame: Metaculture, Modernity, and the Exaggerated Death of Lament(Malden, MA.: Blackwell).

For millennia, lamenting – expressing grief through crying songs, often in a collective ritual context – both sustained and challenged communities around the world. Like all artistic processes, it at once defines and transforms humanity’s deepest feelings. In recent centuries, however, communities that once joined together in lament have rejected it, in apparent shame. Building on ethnographic fieldwork and extensive historical evidence, Crying Shame analyzes lament across thousands of years and nearly every continent, illustrating human commonalities and cultural diversity. The book thus offers a new perspective on modernity and postmodernity by demonstrating their fundamental relationship to lament.

Crying Shame explores the capacity to shed tears and to feel shame, the changes that threaten the survival of lament traditions, and lament’s enduring power.

2009b Language and Emotion (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press).

Language is a means we use to communicate feelings; we also reflect emotionally on the language we and others use. James M. Wilce analyzes the signals people use to express emotion, looking at the social, cultural, and political functions of emotional language around the world. The book demonstrates that speaking, feeling, reflecting, and identifying are interrelated processes and shows how emotions such as desire and shame are attached to language. Drawing on nearly 100 ethnographic case studies, it demonstrates the cultural diversity, historical emergence, and political significance of emotional language. Wilce brings together insights from linguistics and anthropology to survey an extremely broad range of genres, cultural concepts, and social functions of emotional expression.

2003  Social and Cultural Lives of Immune Systems J. Wilce, Editor). New York: Routledge.

Social and Cultural Lives of Immune Systems introduces a provocative new hypothesis in medico-social theory – the theory that immunity and disease are in part socially constituted, and that immune systems function not just as biological entities but also as symbolic concepts charged with political significance.  Bridging elements of psychology, sociology, body theory, immunology and medical anthropology, twelve papers from leading international scholars explicate some of the health-hazards of emotional and social pressure, whilst analysing the semiotic and social responses to immunity and to imagery associated with it.  Is it possible, as some experts now claim, that the terminology of immunity, dependent upon the defense of the self from invasion by an alien other, has entered modern consciousness to a point where it serves as a metaphor and indicator of wider political realities? If oneís social status affects oneís immune competence, can health interventions avoid taking poverty and discrimination into account? Can immunological rhetoric genuinely be shown to affect operations as diverse as military action, crime policy, international food distribution?  If this is the case, what conclusions can be drawn from the fact that tactics of disclosure, emotional openness and inclusion are clinically proven to boost immunity, whereas division, denial and containment – apparently modeled on the activities of immune cells – ironically raise susceptibility to disease?

Social and Cultural Lives of Immune Systems features contributions from David Napier, Emily Martin, Daniel E. Moerman and others alongside critical data from trauma-writing interventions in the US and New Zealand, European drug trials, US clinical practice and global fieldwork on stress, status, and cultural capital.  Possibly the first cultural analysis of embodiment to give close attention to immune function, and certainly one of the first studies of immunology, disease and healing to look seriously at concepts of the social self, it offers a comprehensive framework for future study in an exciting new area.


Eloquence in Trouble: The Poetics and Politics of Complaint in Rural Bangladesh. New York: Oxford University Press.

Eloquence in Trouble captures the articulation of several troubled lives in Bangladesh as well as the threats to the very genres of their expression, lament in particular. The first ethnography of one of the most spoken mother tongues on earth, Bangla, this study represents a new approach to troubles talk, combining the rigor of discourse analysis with the interpretive depth of psychological anthropology. Its careful transcriptions of Bangladeshi troubles talk will disturb some readers and move others--beyond past academic discussion of personhood in South Asia.

Now available in paperback

Eloquence in Trouble captures the articulation of several troubled lives in Bangladesh as well as the threats to the very genres of their expression, lament in particular. The first ethnography of one of the most spoken mother tongues on earth, Bangla, this study represents a new approach to troubles talk, combining the rigor of discourse analysis with the interpretive depth of psychological anthropology. Its careful transcriptions of Bangladeshi troubles talk will disturb some readers and move others--beyond past academic discussion of personhood in South Asia.

abstract of the book
table of contents


in submission Karelian itkukieli as honorific register. Current Anthropology.

2011        “Voice” or “Sound” in Two Contemporary Finnish Healing Modalities. Medical Anthropology and Bioethics [Moscow] 1(1).

2010       Society, Language, History, and Religion: A Perspective from Linguistic Anthropology. In The Sociology of Language and Religion: Change, Conflict and Accommodation, T. Omoniyi ,ed. Pp. 126-155. Palgrave/Macmillan

2009         Medical Discourse. Annual Review of Anthropology 38(1):199-215.

2008         Scientizing Bangladeshi Psychiatry: Parallelism, Enregisterment, and the Cure for a Magic Complex. Language in Society 37(1):91–114.

2006a         Magical Laments and Anthropological Reflections: The Production and Circulation of Anthropological Text as Ritual Activity. Current Anthropology 47(6): 891-914.

2006b      The Grammar of Politics and the Politics of Grammar: From Bangladesh to the U.S. In A Cultural Approach to Interpersonal Communication: Essential Reading. J. Goodman and L. Monaghan, eds. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

2006c     See the Wikipedia entry on Linguistic Anthropology that I authored in May 2006 (which, given the nature of Wikipedia, may or may not have been edited by others at the time you see it).

2005     Traditional laments and postmodern regrets: The circulation of discourse in metacultural context. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology (special issue, Discourse across speech events: Intertextuality and interdiscursivity in social life).

This paper locates laments in intertextual chains and explores them in relation four facets of interdiscursivity— 1) laments' own tendency to include reported speech and 2) to echo previous laments, 3) classificatory discourse about laments, and 4) the (local or global) orientation of such metadiscourses. The paper traces intertextual links between traditional laments and postmodern mourning, and explores lamentsí nonlinguistic, gestural, melodic modes of textuality.

2005b    Narrative Transformations: Emotion, Language, and Globalization. Companion to Psychological Anthropology. Conerly Casey and Robert Edgerton, eds. Oxford, Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Narrative is changing globally. Stories, genres, and languages themselves shift. The relevance of such change to psychological anthropology may be clearest vis-à-vis emotional genres like lament, but new communicative forms are shaping shared subjectivities—widely shared identities. These shifts putatively reflect a grand narrative—the meta-story we call modernity. A limited version of this claim is embraced, based on evidence that newer forms of narrative participation can fit the so-called age of the spectacle.

2004a   Madness, fear, and control in Bangladesh: Clashing bodies of knowledge-power. For Medical Anthropology Quarterly special issue on Illness and Illusions of Control.

This article presents an understanding of how Bangladeshis cope with madness in relation to two assumptions—that systems of knowledge and of power are coterminous, and that actors in medical encounters draw on incompatible bodies of knowledge-power. I present two data sets to illumine tensions between various attempts to control the fears associated with schizophrenia. The first is a set of exchanges in the advice column of a new popular psychiatry magazine in Bangladesh in which the editors inculcate new perspectives on self. The letters signal writersí fears of what might in the end be impossible to control. The second data set is four videotapes of persons diagnosed with schizophrenia, interacting with families and/or psychiatrists. The article focuses on  cases where—in part because of knowledge-power asymmetries—attempts at controlling fears surrounding schizophrenia fail to address the depths, tacitness, embodiment, and narrative embedding of anxieties experienced by all parties.  [schizophrenia, psychiatric discourse, modernity, power, Bangladesh]

2004b    Language and Madness. Companion to Linguistic Anthropology. Alessandro Duranti, ed. Oxford, Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Madness includes linguistic (particularly pragmatic) deviance. We find two troubling stances in popular and scholarly discourse. 1) Blaming the mad for breakdowns in interactions central to human experience dehumanizes them. 2) Treating diagnostic labels and institutional interactions as forms of psychiatric power constitutive of madness overly politicize madness. A synthesis is proposed: if madness problematizes interaction yet reflects social environments as much as neurons, linguistic anthropologists can offer new ways to analyze speech environments that help or exacerbate madness.

2004c    Passionate Scholarship: Recent Anthropologies of Emotion. Reviews in Anthropology 33: 1-17

2004d                  To “Speak Beautifully” in Bangladesh: Subjectivity as Pagalami
            In Schizophrenia, Culture, and Subjectivity: The Edge of Experience. Janis Jenkins and Robert Barrett, eds. Pp. 196-218. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

2002     Genres of Memory and The Memory of Genres: "Forgetting" Lament in Bangladesh.  Comparative Studies in Society and History 44 (1): 159-185.

This article seeks to place lament in the context of Asian modernities, theorize memory in relation to genres of performance, and introduce the notion of social technologies of forgetting. Evidence suggests that Bangladeshi culture is changing in ways congruent with some models of globalizing modernity. Indeed, my data indicate that displacing certain performance genres may be key to modernist transformation. Yet, several persons I describe here endured hardship over several years to continue performing genres their neighbors deemed dated or sacrilegious. This problematizes teleological visions of the progress of a monolithic modernity stamping out older expressive forms.

2001     Divining TROUBLES or diVINing troubles?  Gender, conflict, and polysemy in Bangladeshi divination.  Anthropological Quarterly. 74 (4): 190-199.

Divination is more dialogical than some diviners or anthropologists have made it appear. I analyze the transcript of one Bangladeshi divination event, comparing it with a dozen others performed by one diviner, Delwar, revealing how tenuously he manages to assign a single meaning to troubles, especially when clients openly compare his declarations with their intimate knowledge of those troubles. I explain how divinations could appear to be texts rather than emergent products of interaction. Diviners entextualize their declamations, doing their best to keep context at bay. Anthropologists who concentrate on textual products of divination— like Delwarís declamations—have made divination appear to enable groups to manage conflicts by transcending personal intentionality. Such representations elide troublesome interactive processes in which declamations emerge, meet potential rejection by clients, and are always vulnerable to recontextualization as clients might return to the diviner as events shift their perception of earlier divinationsí accuracy. [divination, dialogism, entexualization, conflict, South Asia] 

2000     The Poetics of Madness: Shifting Codes and Styles in the Linguistic Construction of Identity in Bangladesh.  Cultural Anthropology 15 (1): 3-34.

The speech of the so-called "mad" is itself rendered a "symptom" of madness in Bangladesh as in the West as described by Foucault, though sympathetic explorations of the particular semiotics and poetics of mad speech have recently appeared (Ribeiro 1994, Desjarlais 1997, Wilce 1998b). This paper explores an undertheorized dimension of the poetics of mad speech: the highlighting of cultural paradoxes, the explicit topicalization of multiple identities, the playful switching of footings and even codes in speech that— in its form and content— challenges dominant discourses. This evidence arises from accounts or transcripts of the speech of several persons in Bangladesh to whom the label "mad" may be self-applied (in two cases) or perhaps (in another case) desired but unapplied. This discursive evidence from Bangladesh is compared with Desjarlaisís account of discursive styles used in a Boston shelter for the homeless mentally ill. The paper calls for increased attention to the speech—and particularly the codeswitching— of the so-called mad as a site of that multivocality that celebrates folk life and resists the hegemony of the symbolic order (Kristeva 1980).

1998/ Edited collection: "Communicating Multiple Identities in Muslim Communities," special issue of Ethos Volume 26, No. 2, 1998.

1998 The Kalima in the Kaleidoscope: Snapshots of the Swirl of Muslims' Identities in Contemporary Bangladesh. For special issue of Ethos 26(2): 229-257.

Bengal has long heard discussions of the relative priority of religion, ideology, ethnicity, literary heritage, and translocal affiliations in "Bengali" (or, more recently, "Bangladeshi") identity. Rather than taking "Bengali" or "Muslim" identities as given, this paper explores the construction and invocation of multiple identities by Bangladeshis. These plural identities have at times been played out as harmonious, at other times as competing and conflicting. The thriving market in identities crosscuts Bangladeshi society but, more interestingly, crosscuts individuals' discourse. I describe several recent discourses as contemporary sites of identity ferment in Bangladesh: a letter to the editor of an English newspaper, a meeting between a businessman who is also a pir (Sufi preceptor) and his cosmopolitan disciples, the heated words swirling around doctor and writer Taslima Nasrin, a lament by a rural woman which appeals to the authority of her schoolteachers but also Islamic imagery, and the nasalized speech of spirits and muezzin. The voices I cite agree in some sense by affirming the kalima of Islam, bearing witness to belief in the creed. On the other hand, voices distributed not only across Bangladeshi society but across even a given act of speaking or writing bear witness to the complexity underlying the unifying affirmation of Muslim identity. The poetics of Soviet literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin will be used to analyze the way these words, as signs of identity, borrow meaning from a variety of Others and contribute to new kaleidoscopic transformations of the meaning of being Bengali and Muslim.

1998 The Pragmatics of "Madness": Performance Analysis of a Bangladeshi Woman's "Aberrant" Lament. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry 22(1): 1-54.

A fine-grained analysis of the transcript of a Bangladeshi woman's lament is used to argue for an anthropology of "madness" attending closely to performance and performativity. The sensitivity of this proposed approach to linguistic ideologies has reflexive ramifications for medical and psychological anthropology.

1997 Discourse, Power, and the Diagnosis of Weakness: Encountering Practitioners in Bangladesh. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 11/3: 1-23.

The author's experiences as "patient" of nonbiomedical practitioners- and an examination of Bangladeshis' encounters with practitioners (daaktaar, herbalist, exorcist, and diviner)- reveal the interactive means by which the diagnosis of durbalataa ("weakness") is constructed. In the cases presented, facing power in the person of the practitioner means losing face. It is argued that discursive phenomena above and below the lexical level are responsible. The phenomena described- 1) interruption or dismissal of the patient's words by practitioners and others present during the clinical encounter, 2) divinatory routines that assign the durbalataa label to women, and 3) one patient's use of "creaky" voice quality in a strictly "popular sector" (domestic) encounter - are non-referential but socially significant semiotic processes that operate, for the most part, beneath the level of discursive awareness. These encounters and their outcomes have more to do with social reproduction than with any unambiguously effective therapeutic outcome. [doctor-patient discourse, social construction of illness, language and cognition, semiotics, Bangladesh]

1996 The Role of Iconicity in Imagining Community: The Play of Tropes in a Rural Bangladeshi Moot. Accepted for publication, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology.

Of the two forms of iconism described by Peirce, the "diagram" is less accessible to discursive consciousness. Such cognitive limits are exploited when a particular form of "syntactic iconicity" (Haiman 1985b)- the reduplicated verb ma\ra\ma\ri , "mutual beating, group fighting"- is put to service in the rhetoric of a rural Bangladeshi moot. The result is a particular imagination of community in which, in order to project the parties whose conflict the moot must sort out as a community, the primary form of their social engagement iconically projected by one dominant speaker is "mutual fighting." The limits on awareness (Silverstein 1981) which seem to be exploited in this moot are to be understood not only in purely semiotic terms but also in terms of the way rhetoric or political oratory is peculiarly expert in hiding its own "rhetoricity" (Bloch 1975, Herzfeld 1988).

1995 Diglossia, religion, and ideology: On the mystification of cross-cutting aspects of Bengali language variation.

Studies of diachronic and synchronic variation in the Bengali language reveal cross-cutting dimensions- (1) linguistic indexing of religio-communal identities, and (2) diglossia. Unfortunately, these are treated by two sets of scholars in non-overlapping literatures. Bengal historians treating language cite metalinguistic descriptors such as bhasa yabani misal, dobhasi, and sadhu bhasa in describing competing attempts at sectarian co-optation of Bengali language and culture, while linguists focusing on twentieth-century Bengali have sometimes described the sociolinguistic situation as "diglossic." Sociolinguistic studies give us no reason to suspect religio-communal identity or matters of ideology per se had any more relevance to Bengali diglossia than they had in those defining situations (Arabic, Swiss German, Greek, Haitian Creole/French) originally described by Ferguson (1959). This paper attempts to redress the problems entailed in these parallel academic monologues by exploring how communally-freighted linguistic differences are related to differences previously associated with class and literacy. Competing evaluations of various forms of Bengali are treated in terms of "linguistic ideologies." This research frame creates two linkages: between facts of sociolinguistic variation and the academic discourses which partly mystify those facts, and between Bengali and other language situations treated in the literature on linguistic ideologies.

read an electronic copy of the paper

1995 "I Cannot Tell You All My Troubles": Conflict, Resistance, and Metacommunication in Bangladeshi Illness Interactions. American Ethnologist 22(4): 927-952.

Transcripts of interactions between patients, kin and healers open up the lives of four "patients" in Matlab, Bangladesh. I compare the pattern of domination and resistance in those interactions with Western biomedical encounters. Patients in Matlab express dissatisfaction with the power relations of family or medicine through low-level means which do not enter discursive consciousness. By indirectly calling attention to the suppression of their voices, patients' metacomplaints-- a species of metacommunication evident in two of the interactions-- entail an incipient cultural criticism.

Other Publications and Papers:

1994 Repressed Eloquence:Patients as Subjects and Objects of Complaints in Matlab, Bangladesh. Doctoral dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles.

This dissertation explores how power and personhood are constructed within complaint interactions and lament performances. I describe how ideologies of language are brought to bear in these events. During fleldwork in Matlab, Bangladesh I participated in the daily life of an extended family, observing how members made and responded to complaints. I also observed medical interactions at pharmacies and clinics. Of same of these speech events, including trance-possession/healing performances but primarily everyday interactions in domestic or medical settings, I made audio and/or video recordings. Twenty lengthy recorded excerpts have been transcribed with the help of native-speaker conaultants both in Bangladesh and in Los Angeles. For over a hundred other complaint interactions, mainly domestic, I have detailed fieldnotes with verbatim transcripts made from memory. I present and analyze transcripts from tapes in the tradition of ethnographic discourse and conversation analysis. The larger body of "ethnographic" transcripts, and a corpus of records ICCDR,B collected on hundreds of visits to one of its women's clinics, I subject to quantitative analysis using sociolinguistic and social-demographic methods, reapectively. I also consider the function of complaint patterns as they evolve within a given interaction and over the course of a diatress or illness event.

My expectation that Bangladeshi "patients" would use somatic complaints to voice other concerns was confirmed, but my pre-field understanding of the way "self-assertion" mapped onto complaints, including the specifics of complaint form (e.g. pronoun usage) had to be significantly modified. Complaints in Bangladesh mediate in the complex and sometimes tense negotiative construction of self and other, a process made still more problematic in the cross-currents of social change. Some patients interacting with kin or with practitioners voiced "metacomplaints" - indicationa that something was wrong with the complaint-interactive process itself. I found that recipients heard and reflected on complaints selectively and that this selectivity is usefully seen as ideological. My focus on how competing ideologies of language are manifested or invoked by the various participants extends language-ideological theory into the medical domain and adds to the medical-anthropological literature on conflictual aspects of illness and healing.

Review of Talking Heads (by Benjamin Lee). American Anthropologist.

Review of Shelter Blues (by R. Desjarlais). Journal of Linguistic Anthropology.

Review of Caste, Protest, and Identity in Colonial India: The Namasudras of Bengal, 1972-1947. (by S. Bandyopadhyay). South Asia.

1998    Review of Grammar, Language, and Society: Contemporary Indian Contributions (R. Singh, ed.). Contemporary South Asia 7(3): 379-380.

1998    Review of The state, class formation, and development in Bangladesh (by S.M. Shamsul Alam). Contemporary South Asia 7(1): 93-94.

1994 Review of: All the Mothers are One: Hindu India and the cultural reshaping of psychoanalysis (S. N. Kurtz). Anthropology UCLA 21: 118-120.

1994 Review of: Purity and communal boundaries: Women and social change in a Bangladeshi village (Santi Rozario). American Ethnologist 21(4): 986-987.

1992 Review of: Language and the politics of emotion (C. Lutz and L. Abu-Lughod, eds.). Language in Society 21(1): 132-136.

1989 Analysis of a Paharia Folktale: The Jackal Story. Anthropology UCLA, 16(1): 35-59.

1983 Caste and class among South Asian Muslims: Changing patterns of identity and ideology. Unpublished MA Critique, Claremont Graduate School.

Conference Papers and Presentations and Invited Lectures:
2010    The Revival of Karelian Lament: New Hypotheses, Unanswe3red Questtions (Research Seminar, Folkloristics Department, Helsinki University), May 28, 2010
2010     Registering Change, Enregistering Authenticity: Competing Claims to the Finno-Ugrian ‘Lament Language’ in a ‘Lament Revival,Colloquium Series, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, February 8, 2010.

2009   (with Heidi Haapoja) Registering change, enregistering authenticity: Competing claims to the Finno-Ugrian “lament language” in a “lament revival” 108th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Philadelphia, December 5, 2009.

2008     Crying Shame: Metaculture, Modernity, and the Exaggerated Death of Lament (Research Seminar, Folkloristics Department, Helsinki University), September 23, 2008.
2008     Research Methods in Linguistic Anthropology,” Seminar in Research Methods, Anthropology Department, Helsinki University), October 1, 2008.
2008      Invited Keynote Speaker “Affect at the Interface: Biology, Culture, and the Human,” University of Western Sydney, Australia, June 21-22.

2008  The emergence of psychiatric Bangla: Magic, science, and globalization. “Globality, locality, and contact: Language and culture.” Conference sponsored by the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 17-18 November 2008
2007  Scientizing Psychiatry: Conjuring Linguistic Fixes for Psychiatry’s Magic Complex. Paper presented at the 30th International Congress on Law and Mental Health, Padua, Italy, June 29, 2007.
2006   Finnish Cultural Festivals in Finland and North America: Local and Nonlocal Nostalgias. Paper presented at the 105th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, San Jose, CA, November 19, 2006.
2006      Äänelläitkijät: Finno-Karelian Lament and The Modernity of Tradition. Paper presented at Canadian Finnish Grand Festival, Thunder Bay, Ontario, July 14-16, 2006.
2006      Divining Troubles: Divination as Interaction in Bangladesh. Paper presented at the Twelfth Annual Conference on Language, Interaction, and Culture, UCLA, May 25-27, 2006.

2006    Shame and Unequal Looking Relations: On Display on the Global Stage. Paper presented at Invited Colloquium, Decolonizing Affect Theory, Green College, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, June 25-27, 2006.

2005     Invited Lecture, Globalized States for Linguistic Performance: Baptizing New Frames, Inducing New Shame. University of California, San Diego. Linguistic Anthropology Colloquium Series. April 27, 2005.

2004     Invited Lecture, Social and Cultural Lives of Immune Systems. Arizona State University. School of Life Sciences Seminar Series. Sepatember 10, 2004.

2003     Invited Scholar, LíŠcole des Hautes Študes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, France, May 15-June 15, 2003. Lecture titles: 1) Semiotic and Cultural Processes: The Micro-Embodiments and Global Flows of Signs , 2) Crying Shame: Global Flows of Discourse Transforming Expressive Genres , 3) Communalism and Madness, 4) Interactive Synchrony, and Its Discontents: Ethnographic Studies of Embodied Interaction (The Semiotics of Madness) (presented at Laboratoire díAnthropologie Sociale, College de France).

2003     Linguistic Anthropology Methods: Semiotics and Cultural Context. Brown Bag Lecture for NAU Applied Linguistics, January 22, 2003.

2002     NAU Post-Sabbatical Talk/Anthropology Colloquium: Culture is Dead! Long Live Metaculture!. December 2, 2002.

2002     Crying Shame: Lament Genres, Modern Sensibilities, and Metacultural Globalization. Distinguished Lecture in Anthropology, Pomona College, March, 2002.

2002     Crying Shame: Lament Genres, Modern Sensibilities, and Metacultural Globalization. Invited lecture, Anthropology Colloquium, University of Chicago, Feb. 18, 2002.

2001    Crying Shame: Global Flows of Discourse Transforming Genres of Grief. Invited lecture, Medical Anthropology and Cultural Psychiatry Research Seminar (2001-02 Series, ìPsychiatry and Rationalityî), Department of Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School. November 17, 2001.

2001    Invited participant in the Inaugural Symposium for New Research on Culture-Brain Interactions, sponsored by Foundation for Psycho-Cultural Research), Ojai, CA, June 28-July 1.

1999     Intersubjectivity and Its Discontents: Eloquence in Trouble.  Invited Colloquium.  Department of Anthropology, University of California, Davis.  Nov. 8, 1999.

1999     Attunement and Its Discontents: The Body as Target and Mediator of Ideologies of Semiosis.  Cardiff University Roundtable: Discourses of the Body.  June 9-11, 1999.

1998 / Attunement and its Discontents: Language Ideologies in the Face of Madness in Bangladesh (Paper Presented in Philadelphia at American Anthropological Association Meetings.) Go directly to the paper.
Go to transcript (page 1)
Go to transcript (page 2)
1996 / Language and Consciousness: Lessons from Political and Medical Discourses. Seminar paper presented at the Center for Social Studies, Dhaka University, July 21, 1996.

1995 The Kalima in the Kaleidoscope: Snapshots of the Swirl of Muslims' Identities in Contemporary Bangladesh. Paper presented at the American Anthropological Association meetings, in the panel "Communicating Multiple Identities in Muslim Communities," (organized and chaired by myself).

1995 Diglossia, religion, and ideology: On the mystification of cross-cutting aspects of Bengali language variation. Paper presented at the Bengal Studies Conference, University of Chicago, May 1995.

1994 Facing power and losing face: Patients' encounters with practitioners in Bangladesh. Paper presented at the dually invited session (SMA/SLA) on Medical Discourse, American Anthropological Association, Atlanta, GA.

1994 "Body" themes in the body politic: Rhetoric in a rural Bangladeshi moot. Paper presented at South Asian Language Analysis Roundtable XVI ("Languages in Contact"), University of Pennsylvania, May 20-22.

1993 The aesthetics of complaining: Conflicting values in a rural Bangladeshi illness performance. Presented in the Society for Medical Anthropology's invited session on "Aesthetics, power, and medicine" at the 92nd annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association, Washington, D.C.

1992 "I cannot tell you all my troubles": Health complaints as social action in Matlab, Bangladesh. Presented at the 91st annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, San Francisco, Dec. 2.

1991 "The whole body hurts" : Social support and a health complaint in a Bengali household. Presented at the 4th International Conference on Social Psychology and Language, Santa Barbara, CA, Aug. 5.

1990 Analysis of a Paharia Folktale: The Jackal Story. Presented at the 12th South Asian Language Analysis Roundtable, Berkeley, CA., June 10-12.

Research Experience:
2008-present Fieldwork in Finland (Re-Sounding Voices: "Healing with Lament" in the Contemporary Finnish Lament Revival. Funded by the National Science Foundation. (BCS-0822512).

2000-2001          (December and January) Fieldwork and videotaping in Bangladesh in collaboration with Dhaka psychiatrists on the topics of: schizophrenia; stress, globalization, and culture change; and mother-child interaction.

1997     Fieldwork in New York City and Merced, California on the management of bereavement and maintenance of cultural traditions among Bangladeshi, Haitian and Hmong immigrants.

1996     Fieldwork in Matlab, Bangladesh in cooperation with the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh.  Sociolinguistic and ethnolinguistic investigation of laments and related genres of verbal performance.

1991-1992 Fieldwork in Matlab, Bangladesh in cooperation with the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh. "The patient as linguist agent: Health complaints in rural Bangladesh."

1990-1991 Research associate for Dr. Allen Johnson, Chair, Department of Anthropology. Cross-cultural study of Oedipal myths: Literature searches, compilation of myths, coding of myths and sociocultural variables, statistical analysis using SAS-PC.

1989 Fieldwork in Los Angeles among Bengali speakers: Recording naturally-occurring conversations, training transcribers, conducting interviews.

1976 Linguistic fieldwork near Cap Haitien, Haiti (June- August).




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