Updated October 2018
I am on sabbatical for 2018-2019 and working on three projects. One project, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography (https://rarebookschool.org/admissions-awards/fellowships/sofcb/sofcb_2018-20/), focuses on the language policies and standardization practices of colonial agents and Christian missionaries in 19th century French India. This is in continuation of my archival research on colonial linguistics and technologies of printing in the francophone Tamil world. Second, I am advancing my ethnographic research on South Asian seafarers working on cargo ships and by investigating collaborations between Christian missionaries and shipping technocrats in promoting language ideologies about miscommunication and unsociability. The third project, funded by the National Science Foundation and the Programs in Cultural Anthropology and Law and Social Sciences from 2018-2021, examines practices of video surveillance and language ideologies about miscommunication and cultural difference impacting police-subject interactions in a mid-size city in the U.S. South. The research team includes myself and my Co-PI, Professor Sherina Feliciano-Santos of the University of South Carolina, as well as undergraduate and graduate student assistants at USC and NYU.
I am excited to have been chosen as the incoming Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, along with Professor Chaise LaDousa of Hamilton College. Together we will serve a 3-year term starting in September 2018. (https://anthrosource.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/15481395).
My first monograph, Linguistic Rivalries: Tamil Migrants and Anglo-Franco Conflicts (Oxford University Press, 2016), was awarded Honorable Mention for the Edward Sapir Book Prize by the Society for Linguistic Anthropology in 2017. (http://linguisticanthropology.org/about/prizes/) Focusing on Montréal’s Tamil diaspora, this book examines the language politics and ideologies guiding the formation of national and minority communities in Québec, Tamil Nadu (India), and Jaffna (Sri Lanka). Since the mid-nineteenth century, Anglo-Franco conflicts have informed the documentation, codification, and teaching of minority languages and the constitution of linguistic minority groups in all three regions. In my book, I discuss how colonial and post-colonial nationalist struggles between English and French-speaking powers helped to naturalize and institutionalize the taken-for-granted categories of “ethnolinguistic community” and “linguistic diglossia” informing Tamil heritage language education in Montréal. This book demonstrates the importance of using comparative and historical methods to analyze complex sociolinguistic phenomena attributed to globalization. It also elucidates the dialectic relationship between linguistic typology and geopolitics through the analytic of “scale.” My book has been used to teach classes in linguistic anthropology focusing on politics, multilingualism, globalization, inequality, and identity.