The Linguistic Anthropology Lab hosts speakers and students for informal discussions of works-in-progress and work process in research on language/signs in social contexts. The lab is organized around three main functions:


  1.  Data Sessions and Presentations: we host speakers (students and faculty) for informal discussions of works-in-progress regarding language/signs in social contexts. This includes the review of multimodal/video data, preliminary transcripts, practice job talks, and test-run conference presentations, among other (exciting!) things.
  2. Seminar Room and Workspace: our seminar room and a workroom are available for collaborative and independent work. The rooms are located on the third floor of Haskell Hall, Rooms 301 and 302.
  3. Equipment and Software: the lab holds a collection of equipment and software for recording, transcribing, coding, and annotating data in a range of formats (video, audio, photographic, etc.).



Fadi Hakim and Emily Kuret

hakimf@uchicago.edu and kuret@uchicago.edu

Spring Quarter 2022 Lab Coordinator



Semiotics Workshop


The Semiotics Workshop seeks to advance research based on a semiotic framework. Presentations will come from a variety of fields including but not limited to linguistics, psychology, sociology, political science, literary theory, and anthropology. By not limiting the topic of research by area, period or discipline, the workshop encourages discussion to center on how to study social and cultural phenomena as embedded in a meaningful context. By building on many seminal studies that have used semiotic approaches, the goal of the workshop is to continue to develop the rigorous analytic framework that provides the method for clearly defining linkages between the object of analysis and its context.

2021-2022 Theme: Voice, Sound, and Sonic Modalities of Communication

The Semiotics: Culture in Context Workshop is now accepting submissions for the 2021-22 academic year. As usual, this workshop serves as a forum for scholars attuned to the emergent production of cultural and linguistic phenomena via diverse semiotic processes. Our theme for the year is Voice, Sound, and Sonic Modalities of Communication.

A longstanding concern of linguistic anthropologists, the concept of voice has been rigorously applied to analyze processes of mediation in social interactions, ranging from the materiality of sound production to the metaphor of “voice” as a form of representation in a political body. Thus, we invite paper presenters to consider the following questions: who produces, authorizes, receives, and responds to which modalities of voice and for what purposes (Agha 2005; Bakhtin 1986)? How are voices produced according to different subject positions and across different technological and social infrastructures (Harkness 2015)? What forms of authority arise out of relationality across voices, and what political claims made more or less apparent (Bauman and Briggs 2003)?

Further, we seek papers that consider the many qualities of voice and voicing as components of narration and/or expression. Such dimensions might include polyphony (Bakhtin 1986), resonance (Sicoli 2020), immersion, overlap, prosody, coordination, intimacy (Perrino and Pritzker 2019), repetition, or flow. What results from sensations of hearing, sight, touch, time, or emotion as they take on value as qualia of “voice” – and how do we investigate or diagram these (often sensorial) relations? This year’s theme thus invites papers that also think methodologically about how to study and represent the pragmatics of voice, broadly defined.

Students from any discipline are invited to submit papers that ethnographically discuss semiotic processes of voice, voicing, and sound production.


2019-2020 Theme: “Revisiting Circulation: Poetics/Politics of Images”


The Semiotics: Culture in Context Workshop is now accepting submissions for the 2019–2020 academic year. As usual, this workshop serves as a forum for scholars attuned to the emergent production of cultural and linguistic phenomena via diverse semiotic processes. Our theme for the year is “Revisiting Circulation: Poetics/Politics of Images.”

A longstanding concern of linguistic anthropologists, circulation has been rigorously theorized through the concepts of interdiscursivity (Silverstein 2005; Silverstein 2013; Briggs and Bauman 1992) and entextualization (Silverstein and Urban 1996). Circulation is always an achievement of sameness and differences across contexts of encounter, regimented ideologically and metapragmatically (Gal 2016; Irvine and Gal 2000; Silverstein 2003; Silverstein 1979; Silverstein 1976). Yet, what happens when we turn our attention toward the question of what is made in circulation, and what is circulating (Gal 2018)? Such a refocusing requires further attention to metasemiotic processes, like the complex particulars of moments of enregisterment and the arenas they form (Gal 2018; cf. Agha 2011, Cody 2015), the interplay of citational practices (Nakassis 2016) and the emergence and movement of figural forms of embodied qualities, or qualia (cf. Chumley 2017; Chumley and Harkness 2013; Keane 2003)—that is to say, attention to what’s made in-and-by circulation requires attention to aesthetic textuality and precipitates thereof, image-texts (Nakassis 2019).

As they have been recently (re)theorized in linguistic anthropology, image-texts are not only—or even primarily—about visual media or modalities. Rather, aesthetic textuality points to “emergent structures of qualia that co-textualize each other” (Nakassis 2019, 70). In this light, we seek papers that investigate the processes by which structures of embodied qualities come to formedness and move. How are image-texts produced and moved to new contexts and media, and with what effects? The entextualization of these structures of qualia across contexts and media implicates both the inextricable material aspects of semiosis (Hull 2012; Jamison 2016; Shankar and Cavanaugh 2017) and the fundamentally perspectival (i.e., ideological) work of scaling (Carr and Lempert 2016; Gal 2016; Irvine 2016). How are materials intertwined with image-texts, mediating their movement? What roles do the material aspects of signs play in entextualizing structures of qualia? What networks and infrastructures facilitate their movement? How and for whom do different dimensions and categories mediate the movement of image-texts across contexts and modalities? How and for whom do image-texts mediate the forging of models, categories, and measures? How might an attention to the circulation of image-texts inform current debates on the politics of representation, affect, and value?

Students from any discipline are invited to submit papers that ethnographically discuss semiotic processes of images in circulation.