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Abstract

Broadly speaking, this dissertation explores the politics of circulation that mediate ongoing forms of settler colonial and Indigenous dialogism. In particular, it focuses on the circulation of the Hopi language, a Uto-Aztecan language spoken primarily on the Hopi Reservation in Arizona, or, as many tribal members call this territory, the center of the universe. Although spoken primarily in this one locale, the language has become a contested object that draws into relation a wide variety of people who purport to preserve or revitalize it in different ways. These people are: the staff of the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office; Hopi language teachers and their students at Hopi; and finally, linguists, anthropologists, and archivists at and especially beyond Hopi. Through attention to formal grammatical patterning and denotation, to textual structure, and to dialogic histories, this dissertation characterizes the different claims these actors make to the Hopi language, showing how they embed it in different regimes of intertextuality. Such regimes draw upon and create divergent ideologies about ownership and relationality, language, and knowledge. The practices through which some members of collecting and scholarly communities strive to keep Indigenous languages vital are predicated on the idea of knowledge as a public good, something ideally available to all and belonging to all. For such persons, the continued spread and dissemination of the language is a form of positive growth. Yet, this can be experienced as a form of depletion or even theft by some Hopi tribal members. Without putting an end to all circulation, tribal members strive keep instantiations of the language tethered to Hopi as a social formation, so that if and as they circulate, they are never completely excised from this contextual surround, but always remain indexically connected to it. This a semiotics of dynamic connection; less one of pointing back or returning towards an original source, than one of pointing towards an emergent locus, the here-and-now. In the face of different kinds of extraction and recontextualization, Hopi tribal members entail this kind of dynamic connection by making claims upon the language that often involve imposing a limit. These limits are outward facing, imposed on others, but they are just as often inward facing, imposed on the very selves making the claims. Perhaps paradoxically, the process of negotiating limits is productive of an expansive, ever-unfolding social collective. This dissertation offers a critical approach to Indigenous language revitalization as a social practice, furthers the linguistic anthropological theorization of intertextuality, and contributes to theorizing the concepts of recognition and refusal or limits by approaching them semiotically.

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