HSS/IIT Gandhinagar organised a one day symposium on the topic Language, Space and Perspective featuring visiting Fulbright Scholar Erika Hoffman-Dilloway (Oberlin College, USA).  Hoffman-Dilloway is an expert in Sign Languages, Deaf Studies, Linguistic and Visual Anthropology, and author of the book Signing and Belonging in Nepal. Currently she is associated with Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu on a Fulbright Fellowship, and is visiting IIT-GN as part of the Fulbright Regional Travel Programme.
Date: 2 Feb 2023
Time: 10AM-7PM
Venue: AB 6/202

Keynote Address: “Image Making and Perspective Taking in Kathmandu’s Older and Vulnerable Deaf Persons’ Project” by Erika Hoffmann-Dilloway (Oberlin College)

In many ideological contexts, linguistic and imagistic properties are defined in opposition to one another. As a consequence, signed modes of communication have been (and in some contexts are still) treated as non-linguistic on the basis of being considered overly imagistic. For example, when deaf Nepalis communicate through visual-manual modalities, until relatively recently they have been understood by many hearing Nepalis not to be using language, but rather what is locally called “natural sign.” Natural sign, as its name suggests, is misunderstood as being universal and unmediated. Sign languages are fully linguistic and “natural signing” in fact hinges on deaf people’s skill with the perspective taking that allows them to predict which actions will be most interpretable to those with whom they don’t share a common linguistic code. This paper draws on ethnographic research conducted in Nepal’s Older and Vulnerable Deaf Person’s Project (ODP) to explore the centrality of both image-making and perspective-taking (strategies grounded in so called “natural” signing) to Nepali Sign Language pedagogy. Exploring underlying semiotic processes operating across types of communicative practices that are ideologized as relatively more linguistic and relatively more imagistic undermines simple attempts to dichotomize them and helps us better understand the complex ways people make meaning together.

Session One 10:00AM-12:30PM

Vysakh R. Research Scholar, IITGN

“The Grammar of Space in Lurö Language”

Nishaant Choksi, Assistant Professor, IITGN and Kalpesh Rathwa, Researcher, IITGN

“Multilingualism and Vocabularies of Displacement in Western India”

Discussants: Jooyoung Kim (Assistant Professor, IIT-Gandhinagar), Erika Hoffman Dilloway (Professor, Oberlin College)

Session Two 3:00PM-4:30PM

Nidhi Shastri, Sabarmati Fellow, IITGN

“Do changes during translation exhibit common patterns across languages?”

Harshitha JK, MA, Society and Culture, IITGN

“Linguistic and spatial construction of caste in a Dalit Basti”

Nimisha John, Research Scholar, IITGN

“‘Tg’, ‘og’ and ‘Naran’: Reflections from a Parivar in South India”

Discussants: Nishaant Choksi (Assistant Professor, IIT-Gandhinagar), Erika Hoffman-Dilloway (Professor, Oberlin College)

Launch Event