William F. Hanks, distinguished professor of Anthropological Linguistics, UC Berkeley


William F. Hanks, distinguished professor of Anthropological Linguistics at the University of California Berkeley will speak on "The Birth of a Language: The Formation & Spread of the Colonial Yucatec Maya Language" on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. in the Anthropology Lecture Hall (Room 163) of the UNM Anthropology Building.

He will also conduct a specialized seminar on "Conversion–Religious & Other. The Franciscans & the Maya" on Thursday, Feb. 16 at 12:15 p.m. in the Anthropology Building, Room 178.  The lecture and seminar are sponsored by the Journal of Anthropological Research.

The JAR Lecture will deal with the post-conquest Spanish policy of reducción, a kind of enforced hispanization by means of transformation of the Maya language in the Yucatan Peninsula, along with Christianization, resettlement and a degree of cultural assimiliation, which meant conversion to Spanish Catholicism.  The legacy of this long process is apparent in the Yucatec Maya language and culture of today.

Hanks is one of the foremost current experts in the colonial and contemporary Maya.   He is a leading theoretician of people's use of language to situate and orient themselves in space.   He is also involved with the study of modern day Maya shamanism through participant-observation, the study of the colonial history of the Yucatan and New Spain more generally.   He is increasingly interested in early modern Spain and the evolution of the Spanish language, particularly as spoken in the New Spain.

Hanks is the author of many articles on linguistic theory and the Maya languages, and author or editor of numerous books, most recently the highly praised Converting Words: Maya in the Age of the Cross (University of California Press, 2010).

Hanks is a distinguished professor of Anthropological Linguistics at the University of California Berkeley.  He received his Ph.D. in Linguistics & Anthropology at the University of Chicago in 1983 and began his teaching career at Chicago moving on to Northwestern, then UC Berkeley. Hanks has also taught at the University of Texas Austin and been a visiting professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris,  the Universite de Paris-Nanterre, the University of Copenhagen, the  Casa de America in Madrid and at the International Center for Semiotic & Cognitive Studies in San Marino.

The JAR Distinguished Lectures are free and open to the public.  The UNM Anthropology Bldg. & Scholes Hall are east of Redondo Rd. (parallel to University Blvd.), on Roma between Martin Luther King and Las Lomas.  Both venues are wheelchair-accessible.

The Journal of Anthropological Research has been published quarterly by UNM in the interest of general anthropology since 1945.  To subscribe call (505) 277-4544.

Media contact: Karen Wentworth (505) 277-5627; e-mail: kwent2@unm.edu