The goal of the UA ECHO (Co-)Lab for is to think, feel, and experiment together in developing biolinguistic anthropology as an integrative practice that brings biocultural medical anthropology and linguistic anthropology together in both research and applied programs in healthcare, education, and/or social change. . Biolinguistic anthropology is based, specifically, on linguistic anthropology’s commitment to studying the ongoing emergence of culture in everyday interaction as well as biocultural-medical anthropology’s approach to understanding the cultural, historical, and relational emergence of biology. Biolinguistic anthropology thus focuses on the development of research that appreciates the multiple ways in which communication (including language but also gesture, gaze, body positioning, etc.) is always simultaneously biological, emotional, relational, and sociohistorically situated.
Based in the UA Department of Anthropology, ECHO is directed by Dr. Sonya Pritzker, a medical and linguistic anthropologist as well as a licensed practitioner of Chinese medicine who is committed to the development of biolinguistic anthropology as an integrated, ethnographic, and cross-disciplinary endeavor that centers embodiment, language, and health/healing in and across specific projects.
Supported by a five-year CAREER award from the National Science Foundation to support the development of biolinguistic anthropology at UA and beyond, ECHO is also an open, collaborative, and interdisciplinary space that invites participation from all who are interested.
Some of the central questions we consider include:
- What is the role that communication plays in the process by which culture gets “under the skin”?
- How do various institutional, historical, and cultural processes mediate such communication, either directly or indirectly?
- How do individuals, who occupy different social positions vis-à-vis race, gender, and (dis)ability “hear” the world and how are they heard by the world in ways that impact emotional, psychological, or physical experience and/or wellbeing?
- How is the world bodied”by individuals, each of whom moves within a different embodied legacy of intergenerational and genetic experience, through and within particular interactions?
- What kinds of innovative, collaborative, and embodied methods can be used by researchers who are differently positioned with regards to lived experience, education, expertise and access to resources, to study these processes?
- How might we embrace a research justice approach to producing collaborative knowledge on embodiment, language, and health/healing that orients to playing a role in the decolonizing of academic research at the same time as contributing to the possibility of a more just future for all bodies?
Our weekly meetings consist of the following activities:
- "Methods weeks" where we examine and experiment with innovative methods for formulating research questions, gathering and analyzing data, and presenting findings on embodiment, culture, communication, and health or healing in accessible formats. In 2022 thus far, this has included dives into visual methods such as photography, video, and documentary film-making; participant-driven mobile methods; decolonial methods; and microphenomenology, to name just a few.
- Collaborative reading, where we read recent and/or relevant publications (both academic and non-academic) and reflect together on their meaning and potential impact on the emergent field of biolinguistic anthropology.
- Research design sessions where we work with specific individuals, thinking with them as they formulate their research.
- Guest speaker presentations, where renowned scholars in anthropology, sociolinguistics, and social justice share their work with us in a relaxed, dialogic format.
- Data sessions, where we collaboratively examine data related to embodiment, communication and health that has already been gathered by an individual or group.
- "Practice sessions" where individuals or teams conducting research on embodiment, communication, and health have the opportunity to think collaboratively about an upcoming talk or publication.