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We are very excited in the Department to report the selection of our own Dr. Amy Paugh as the recipient of the 2011-2012 College of Arts and Letters Madison Scholar Award. Candidates for the award are nominated by their colleagues, and winners are chosen based on the excellence of their scholarly achievement in their respective field.
Dr. Paugh specializes in linguistic and cultural anthropology, with principal areas of focus on the anthropology of children and childhood, linguistic contact and change, and language endangerment and revitalization. Her research, which has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and other grants, explores the complex interrelations between language and culture in the Caribbean and the United States. One of her primary research projects addresses the shift from Patwa, an Afro-French creole language spoken in rural areas of Dominica, to English, the official language of the island nation. Dr. Paugh’s research, which represents over 20 months of observations since 1995, highlights the critical role of children in this process. Though forbidden from speaking Patwa by adults, children find ways to navigate this complex political and cultural landscape by creating “safe” spaces among peers in which they can speak and maintain Patwa as they negotiate their identities, power dynamics, and play.
Dr. Paugh is also a research affiliate with the Sloan Center on Everyday Lives of Families at UCLA, where she held a postdoctoral fellowship before coming to JMU in 2004. This research project investigates processes of linguistic and cultural learning among ethnically diverse middle-class American families in Los Angeles, CA, with a focus on negotiations about work, health, eating, and time in family interaction.
Dr. Paugh’s research has been published in leading journals in linguistic anthropology. Her 2005 article, “Multilingual play: Children’s code-switching, role play, and agency in Dominica, West Indies,” was recently reprinted in a collection of “major works” in anthropological linguistics. Her book manuscript, Playing with Languages: Children and Change in a Caribbean Village, is under contract with Berghahn Books.
On November 9, 2011, from 7-9 pm in Taylor 405, Dr. Paugh will present a public lecture based on her research.