Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft Leibniz-Gemeinschaft

The living ethnolinguistic heritage of the Aikanã and Kwaza of Rondônia Brazil (Kwaza)

The documentation project "The ethnolinguistic composition of southeastern Rondônia: The Aikanã, the Kwaza and their neighbours" (2012 - 2016) has resulted in a wealth of new information on the languages, culture and ethnohistory of the speakers of the highly endangered Aikanã and Kwaza language isolates, as well as several of their traditional neighbours. This information is contained in a substantial digital archive of audio and video recordings, containing linguistic, ethnohistorical and personal interviews, traditional narratives, vocal and instrumental music, as well as material, intellectual and spiritual cultural practices, supplemented by photos and fieldnotes.

During the follow-up project, the project will analyse different aspects of language, culture and ethnohistory. For the field of linguistics, an in-depth analysis of the Aikanã verb classification, reference tracking and deictic systems will be carried out. For the field of anthropology, the kinship system and relations, musical culture and mythology, and the integration of the personal Aikanã and Kwaza ethnohistories in a coherent narrative, will fill the gap in the literature on the region. For the indigenous community, it is essential that such projects are made tangibly relevant to them, such as by receiving support in the area of education and cultural revitalization. To this end, the different linguistic and anthropological components of the project will be integrated into a kind of online cultural encyclopedia of the Aikanã, in the form of a multimedia dictionary with links to audio and video documents from the DobeS archive.

The project will be carried out by Dr. Hein van der Voort (Museu Goeldi) with Lisa Grund (anthropology) and Joshua Birchall (linguistics).