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Intergenerational language ideologies, practices, and management: an ethnographic study in a Nahuatl community

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Although there are millions of Nahuatl speakers, the language is highly threatened. The dominant language of Coatepec de los Costales, a small village in Guerrero, Mexico, was historically Nahuatl, a

Although there are millions of Nahuatl speakers, the language is highly threatened. The dominant language of Coatepec de los Costales, a small village in Guerrero, Mexico, was historically Nahuatl, a Uto-Aztecan language, referred to by some as “Mexicano” (Messing, 2009). In the last 50 years, there has been a pronounced shift from Mexicano to Spanish in the village, and fewer than 10% of the residents currently speak Mexicano. Without intervention, the language will be lost in the village. The ultimate cause of language shift is a disconnect in transferring the Indigenous language from the older to the younger generations. In Coatepec, older Nahuatl speakers are not teaching their children the language. This recurring theme appears in case studies of language shift around the world. Using a conceptual framework that combines (1) a critical sociocultural approach to language policy; (2) Spolsky’s (2004) definition of language policy as language practices, ideologies or beliefs, and management; (3) the ethnography of language policy, and (3) Indigenous knowledges, I collected and analyzed data from a six-month ethnographic study of language loss and reclamation in Coatepec. Specifically, I looked closely at the mechanisms by which language ideologies, management, and practices were enacted among members of different generations, using a combination of observation, archival analysis, and in-depth ethnographic interviews. Seidman’s (2013) three-part interview sequence, which includes a focused life history, details of experience, and reflections on meaning, provided the framework for the interviews. What are the language ideologies and practices within and across generations in this setting? What language management strategies – tacit and official – do community members of different generations employ? This in-depth examination of language ideologies, practices, and management strategies is designed to illuminate not only how and why language shift is occurring, but the possibilities for reversing language shift as well.

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  • 2016

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Generations at work: a phronetic approach to aged and generational scholarship

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Scholarship and the popular press alike assert that, within the workplace and the world, there are distinct generational groups who are hallmarked by fundamental differences. Generational scholarship, undergirded by the

Scholarship and the popular press alike assert that, within the workplace and the world, there are distinct generational groups who are hallmarked by fundamental differences. Generational scholarship, undergirded by the priori assumption that generational differences must be managed, has become a well traversed field despite very little empirical evidence to substantiate the claims made about the attitudes, values, and beliefs of these purported generational cohorts. Scholars debate the veracity of generational characteristics, but few have taken critical approaches and noted the absence of theory and meta-discourse in the field. All the while, the over-simplified stereotypes are perpetuatued and employed in making fundamental decisions about the lives and work of the old and the young. In this dissertation, I present a grounded qualitative and phronetic study that offers a framework for a more nuanced approach to generational scholarship. Specifically, I employ qualitative methods and take a phronetic approach to examine young professionals’ (a) sensemaking of generational constructs and (b) identification/disidentification with generational archetypes. This dissertation reveals the ways in which participants made sense of popular generational archetypes as stereotypes or generalizations that exist in broad contexts of media and culture but are unconsidered in the workplace. Further, in the context of work, participants demonstrated very limited identification or disidentification with popular generational archetypes. Despite this, participants created and enacted generational differences in their workplaces based on age and tenure in the industry through the development of emergent archetypes. Methodologically, this dissertation demonstrates the utility of more emic approaches to generational scholarship and evidences the need for situated and needs based approaches. Theoretically, this dissertation demonstrates the utility of sensemaking and identification in generational scholarship. Moreover, the insights gleaned from these frameworks illustrate the need for the critical examinations in the field, and meta-discourse about our assumptions.

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  • 2016

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Intergenerational narratives: American responses to the Holocaust

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This dissertation examines U. S. American intergenerational witnesses to the Holocaust, particularly how addressees turned addressors maintain an ethical obligation to First Generation witnesses while creating an affective relation to

This dissertation examines U. S. American intergenerational witnesses to the Holocaust, particularly how addressees turned addressors maintain an ethical obligation to First Generation witnesses while creating an affective relation to this history for new generations. In response to revisionism and the incommunicability of the Holocaust, a focus on (accurate) First Generation testimony emerged that marginalizes that of intergenerational witnesses. The risk of such a position is that it paralyzes language, locking the addressee into a movement always into the past. Using examples of intergenerational witnesses (moving from close to more distant relationships), this project argues that there is a possibility for ethical intergenerational response. There are two major discussion arcs that the work follows: self-reflexivity and the use of the Banality of Evil as a theme. Self-reflexivity in intergenerational witnessing calls attention to the role of the author as transgenerational witness, an act that does not seek to appropriate the importance or position of the Holocaust survivor because it calls attention to a subjective site in relation to the survivor and the communities of memory created within the text. The other major discussion arc moves from traditional depictions of the Banality of Evil to ones that challenge the audience to consider the way evil is conceptualized after the Holocaust and its implications in contemporary life. In these ways, intergenerational witnesses move from addressee to addressors, continuing to stress the importance of this history through the imperative to pass Holocaust testimony onward into the future.

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  • 2012