Associate Professor
Department of Anthropology
State University of New York at Potsdam

Lydia Rodríguez Cuevas I am a linguistic anthropologist with an interest in linguistic relativity, the anthropology of time, spontaneous gesture, and discourse analysis. I have conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Quito (Ecuador), Madrid (Spain), Chiapas (Mexico), and Dallas (United States).

My scholarship examines the relationship between grammatical categories and cognition and, more broadly, how wider modes of discursive representation, which Whorf called "fashions of speaking," may influence thought patterns and worldview. Methodologically, I have used ethnopoetic analysis to explore the relationships between language-specific discursive patterns, narrative structure, and thought. I have also experimented with picture-description tasks, a technique widely used by cognitive linguists, to analyze the cognitive frameworks that are highlighted in discursive contexts. I have written about a variety of topics dealing with the written and spoken representation of time in Mayan cultures, including Mayan hieroglyphics, Mayan healing rituals, narrative structure, and discursive patterns.

One of the key aspects of my research is its focus on multimodality in communicative interactions. I use gesture analysis to explore the relationship between language, discursive patterns, and temporal thought. In several recent publications I provide gestural evidence which shows that speakers of Chol, a Maya language spoken in Southeastern Mexico, do not conceptualize time in terms of abstract mental timelines or axes, as speakers of tensed languages do. I argue that, instead of reflecting the metaphorical mapping of time onto space in a timeline, temporal gestures in Chol often reflect the aspectual semantics of the sentences where they occur.

Some of the latest research that I have developed at SUNY Potsdam focuses on political discourse. Specifically, it explores gesture-speech mismatches through the qualitative analysis of political performances in the media. I am interested in the structural morphology of gesture-speech mismatches, and on the possible effects that intentional deception can have in speech-accompanying gestures. I welcome inquiries from students and colleagues interested in linguistic anthropology. My CV can be downloaded here.




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