My first research project examines the politics of indigenous languages in an era of state-sponsored multiculturalism in Ecuador. Ecuador is internationally known for successful organizing by indigenous individuals. Among their achievements has been the institutionalization of a national-level school system, headed by many Kichwa-speakers. I am currently writing a book, where I consider how those who work in the offices that run the school system, the National Directorate of Intercultural Bilingual Education, promote indigenous languages as a social movement within the restrictions of upper-level state offices. I show how particular ways of speaking in Kichwa attempt to remedy the difficulties of running a language revitalization movement from within the Ministry of Education. My manuscript draws from more than two consecutive years of ethnographic research with funding from a National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship, a Wenner-Gren Foundation Dissertation Fieldwork Grant, and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship in linguistic anthropology.
I am currently engaged in research for a second book based on long-term collaborative ethnographic research with an intercultural bilingual school in Ecuador. As indigenous individuals increasingly migrate to cities from disparate regions, this project considers how schools can promote cultural and linguistic difference while at the same time building unity among students from diverse backgrounds. This project serves as an ethnography of the difficulties of migration, urban poverty, and cultural revitalization in Latin America, and also an educational experiment. With administrators and teachers at the school, we are developing new teaching methods that promote and reinforce identities of difference, such as pedagogical materials that support Kichwa register variation in classrooms.