Event—McNickle Center

Dynamics of Concentration and Dispersal


This presentation, a dissertation chapter-in-progress, compares Hopi ideas about preservation with reigning best practices in language revitalization initiatives and archival practice. It draws on a discussion between members of an advisory panel to the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office who described the process of safeguarding Hopi cultural material as one of preventing its “breaking apart” or “scattering”. This conceptualization presupposes a whole at some center point; a model that the two other fields mentioned above may not uphold. Although they involve different dynamics of concentration and dispersal, both archival and language revitalization work threatens to undermine Hopi as the authorizing center of cultural life.

Hannah McElgunn is a joint PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Linguistics at the University of Chicago. Her dissertation, “Language at the Center of the Universe” investigates how actors with different, and often competing, ideas about property and knowledge are brought into relation through their claims to “safeguard” the Hopi language. She is committed to working collaboratively with Hopi colleagues through the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office.

For more information please call the D’Arcy McNickle Center Program Coordinator, Patrick Rochford at (312) 255-3552 or email rochfordp@newberry.org