Martina Volfova

Research Key Words:

Linguistic Anthropology, Indigenous Languages, Language Revitalization, Maintenance, and Documentation, Embodied Discourse Practices, Semiotics, Performance and Performativity, Narrative Practices, Verbal Art, Anthropology of Education, Visual Anthropology, Youth Engagement and Activism

PhD Research:

My primary research interests include issues concerning the revitalization, maintenance, and most recently, documentation of Indigenous languages. I am interested in using film, photography, and audio recording to carry out a community-based, collaborative research, focusing on the documentation of everyday practices and activities to produce not only holistic language documentation materials, but also innovative, culturally appropriate, and visually engaging language learning resources. My background in linguistics, language teaching, and curriculum development has shaped my research work and the way I see it fit into the larger context of Indigenous language revitalization efforts. My goal is to do research that is not only theoretically grounded and rigorous, but also engaging and benefitting the communities whose languages it concerns. Since 2014, I have been working with a Kaska (Dene) community in the Yukon Territory in Northern Canada, where I have been involved with a number of projects including the Kaska Talking Dictionary and the development of the Kaska Language Website.

B.A. Linguistics and Spanish, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, 2001

B.A. Honours: 

“Survey of Language and Cultural Maintenance of American Czech in Rural Minnesota”

This ethnographic project investigated the status of American Czech language in the rural community of New Prague, Minnesota, USA.

M.A. Linguistic Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, USA, 2013

M.A. Research:

“And Now We Are All Newenee”: A Journey of Becoming and Keeping the Shoshone Language and Culture Alive

This thesis is an ethnographic account of language revitalization efforts, examining how Shoshone and Goshute youth involved in the University of Utah’s Shoshone/Goshute Youth Language Apprentice Program (SYLAP) experience language loss, negotiate their communities’ complex linguistic landscapes, and actively and innovatively contribute to the overall Shoshone language revitalization efforts. These efforts create new and exciting domains of language use and more importantly, bridge intergenerational ideological gaps, effectively opening a dialog about exploring a variety of non-traditional resources to promote Shoshone language use.

M.A. Supervisor: James Wilce, PhD

Supervisors: Dr. Patrick Moore, Dr. Mark Turin, Dr. Barbra Meek


 American Anthropological Association (AAA)

Society for Linguistic Anthropology (SLA)

 American Association of Geographers

2019 In preparation: “Draze Milovaní…. Dearly Loved Ones…” Notes from the Front. Multimodal Anthropology – American Anthropologist Journal

2017 Wilce, J. M. & Volfova, M. Applying Linguistic Anthropology. In Culture and Communication: An Introduction. James M. Wilce. Pp. 269-297. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

2015 Indigenizing the Teacher’s Toolbox: Language Teaching Practices in Shoshone Classroom. In Honoring Our Elders: Culturally Appropriate Methods for Teaching Indigenous Students. Flagstaff: Northern Arizona University.

2012 Volfova, M. & Douglass, M. Is it Ever Just a Joke? In Anthropology of Humor and Laughter. Ewa Wasilewska, ed. Pp. 173-199. San Diego: Cognella.


Conference Presentations:

2015   Living Song: Meditation on Moravian Folk Song Traditions
Co-Presenter with Julia Ulehla (UBC School of Music), 2015 Endnotes: UBC English Graduate Conference – Dis/Quieting Desires, Vancouver, BC (May 15-16, 2015)

2014  Unsettled Stories: Language Revitalization in Places that Insist on Speaking. American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Washington DC (December 3 – 7, 2014)

2014 “I Wanna Help Keeping Our Language”: Shoshone Youth and Language Revitalization. Annual Conference on Language, Interaction, and Culture (CLIC), University of California, Los Angeles (May 1 – 3, 2014)

2014 Research Agendas and Community Interests: Confronting Language Ideologies in Language Revitalization Work. UBC Facilitated Interdisciplinary Research Exchange (FIRE) Talks, Vancouver, British Columbia (March 26, 2014)

2014 Community Collaboration: Shoshone/Goshute Youth Language Apprentice Program. UBC Department of Anthropology Research Open House, Vancouver, British Columbia (March 21, 2014)

2015 “And Now We Are All Newenee”: A Journey of Becoming and Keeping the Shoshone Language and Culture Alive. UBC Department of Anthropology, Anthropology Graduate Student Association (AGSA) Talks, Vancouver, British Columbia (February 5, 2014)

2013  “Indigenizing the Toolbox”: Manipulating Language Ideologies in Shoshone Classroom Teaching. Paper presented at Conference on Endangered Languages and Cultures of Native America (CELCNA), University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah (March 8 – 9, 2013)

2012 “It’s Not Like Playing Indian for a Day, This is Real”: Exploring Indigenous Language Ideologies and Issues of Authenticity. Paper presented at the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco, California (November 14 – 18, 2012)

2012 Teaching Beginning Level Learners of American Indian Languages. Workshop for teachers conducted at Conference on Endangered Languages and Cultures of Native America (CELCNA), University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah (March 22 – 23, 2012)