'You find yourself in there': Hybridity, transposition and translation in White Mountain Apache discourse (Arizona)

Marybeth Eleanor Nevins
Dept. of Anthropology, University of Arizona
July, 2005


The goal of this dissertation is to provide a window upon ongoing processes of discursive innovation and change on the White Mountain Apache reservation. I focus on three sites in which Apache people bring locally derived Apache and globally engaged Western language ideologies and communicative competencies into interaction with one another: the use of mass media discourse in a new place- name genre, relations between Christian and 'traditional' ceremonial discourse in Independent Apache Christian Churches, as well as contrasting understandings of language learning and 'language loss' in Apache homes and schools, respectively. These should be taken as emblematic of the kinds of processes that are taking place in many other discursive domains all over the reservation. While characterizing the speech community in terms of a notion of hybridity, I also show that hybridity is not a uniform state of discourse. The differences between the three examples I have singled out demonstrate that the structuring of hybrid genres in terms of locally derived patterns and precedents, on the one hand, and engagements with the dominant society, on the other, varies across different domains of discursive practice. By attending to these differences, we are afforded a view of contemporary Apache discourse that reveals the continuing relevance of locally derived communicative competence and language ideology not only to traditional forms, but to innovative discourse genres as well. This approach also reveals the dynamic role played by actors differently positioned with respect to locally derived and more recently introduced communicative practices and ideologies in shaping the
contemporary White Mountain Apache discursive landscape.