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Elizabeth Falconi

Visiting Professor    

Ph. D., University of Michigan, 2011


Linguistic anthropology, Mexico & the U.S., migration and transborder communities, citizenship, indigeneity, language and social inequality, narrative, language shift and revitalization.


Elizabeth Falconi is a linguistic anthropologist who received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2011. Her research focuses on migration across borders that define and divide nations, social groups, communities, speakers and languages. She came to this focus through her own engagements with language and migration moving between the United States and Latin American during her childhood and then again later as an adult.
Her current research investigates transborder community formed by migration between San Juan Guelavía, a rural village in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, and Los Angeles, California. She has found that for highly dispersed populations shared forms of narration, discursive patterning, and reflexive forms of talk enable Guelavians in Oaxaca, Los Angeles and elsewhere to constitute a “narrated community” amid the challenges of fragmentation and transformation faced by community members separated by time and space. Like other indigenous populations, Zapotec communities have been historically marginalized in Mexico, and they comprise a minority within a minority in the United States. For example, among Guelavians fears of language-based discrimination are bound up with two simultaneous and mutually reinforcing patterns of language shift away from Zapotec occurring on both sides of the border, towards the use of English and Spanish. In fact, experiences of marginalization and discrimination are so pervasive that they provide for powerful forms of connectivity that bind Guelavians in diaspora to their kin in Oaxaca.
When not teaching or researching, Elizabeth enjoys spending time with her daughter, husband, and dog, walks in the woods, swimming, yoga, cooking, and reading fiction.

Courses Taught:

– ANTH 1102, Introduction to Anthropology
– ANTH 2040, Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology
– ANTH 4480/6480, Ethnographic Analysis


Recent Publications:
– Falconi, E. & Steven Black (to appear) “Ethnolinguistics” in The Handbook of
Linguistics, Mark Aronoff and Janie Rees-Miller (eds.) Wiley Press.
– Falconi Elizabeth (in press) “Transborder Contact: Shifting Patterns of
Linguistic Differentiation in a Zapotec Community” to appear in International Journal of the Sociology of Language, Special Theme issue “Indigenous Languages in Contact”
– Falconi, Elizabeth (2013) “Storytelling, Language Shift and Revitalization in a
Transborder Community: ‘Tell it in Zapotec!’” in American Anthropologist, Vol. 115 (4)

Book Manuscript in Progress:
Falconi, Elizabeth, Migrant Stories: Narrative and the Negotiation of a Zapotec
Transborder Community