Sawyer Seminar Working Group Invitation

Dear campus community:

We would like to invite you to a multi-disciplinary working group in connection with the 2018-2019 UC Berkeley Sawyer Seminar on the topic of linguistic anthropology and literary and cultural study. You can find a longer description of the Seminar here.  The working group will be meeting eight times throughout the year to discuss work from the Seminar’s invited speakers and others. The Sawyer Seminar itself will consist of seven two-day events across the academic year dedicated to a series of interlocking themes: translation / transduction, sound, publics, politics, religion, sexuality, or ethics. In addition to a meeting coinciding with each of these seven sessions, our first meeting will serve as something of an introduction to linguistic anthropology and its potential relations to literary and cultural study.

Working group meetings will take place on Tuesdays from 6-8pm in Dwinelle 127.  For each meeting after the introductory one, this will occur on the Tuesday prior to each Wednesday/Thursday Seminar session. The dates and readings are:


Michael Lucey, “Proust and Language-in-Use,” Novel: A Forum on Fiction 48, no. 2 (2015): 261-279.

Michael Silverstein, “Shifters, Linguistic Categories, and Cultural Description,” in Keith H. Basso and Henry A. Selby, eds., Meaning in Anthropology (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1976), 11-55.

Jillian R. Cavanaugh, “Indexicalities of Language in Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels: Dialect and Italian as Markers of Social Value and Difference,” in Grace Russo Bullaro and Stephanie Love, eds., The Works of Elena Ferrante: Reconfiguring the Margins (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), 45-70.


Lisa Mitchell, “From the Art of Memory to the Practice of Translation: Making Languages Parallel,” chapter 5 of Language, Emotion, and Politics in South India: The Making of a Mother Tongue (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009).

Elliott Colla, “Dragomen and checkpoints,” The Translator 21, no. 2 (2015): 132-153.

Anthony K. Webster, “‘Everything Got Kinda Strange after a While:’ Some Reflections on Translating Navajo Poetry that Should not be Translated,” Anthropology and Humanism 40, no. 1 (2015): 72-93.

Elizabeth A. Povinelli, “Radical Worlds: The Anthropology of Incommensurability and Inconceivability,”  Annual Review of Anthropology 30 (2001): 319-34.

Michael Silverstein, “Translation, Transduction, Transformation: Skating ‘Glissando’ on Thin Semiotic Ice,” in Paula G. Rubel and Abraham Rosman, eds., Translating Cultures: Perspectives on Translation and Anthropology (New York: Berg, 2003), 75-105.

For September 12 and 13, we are making available a piece of writing by each of the speakers.

September 12:

Susan Gal, “Commentary: Processes of Translation and Demarcation in Legal Worlds,” forthcoming in Elizabeth Mertz and R. Ford, eds., Law and the Translation of Social Worlds (New York: Fordham University Press).

Elliott Colla, “The People Want,”

September 13:

Mairi Louise McLaughlin, “News translation past and present: silent witness and invisible intruder,” Perspectives: Studies in Translatology (2015): 1-18.

Saul Schwartz, “Writing Chiwere: Orthography, literacy, and language revitalization,” Language & Communication 61 (2018): 75-87.

Tobias Warner, “How Mariama Bâ Became World Literature: Translation and the Legibility of Feminist Critique,” PMLA 131, no. 5 (2016): 1239-55.







Invited speakers include Susan Gal, Steven Feld, Virginia Jackson, Paja Faudree, Michael Warner, Asif Agha, Michael Silverstein, Judith Irvine, Laura Graham, and others.

We ask working group members to commit to attending all (or at the very least 6 out of 8) sessions to help with the creation of a robust conversation.  We will be developing the reading list for the working group over the course of the summer, and readings for the introductory session will be distributed sometime in June.

To help us in our planning, please drop us a line to let us know if you’d like to join the working group.

Michael Lucey and Tom McEnaney