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Faculty Author Series: Jonathan Amith

The Mobius Strip: A Spatial History of Colonial Society in Guerrero, Mexico by Jonathan Amith


Focusing on Guerrero on the southwestern coast of Mexico, anthropologist Jonathan Amith offers a spatial history of colonial society as a particularly effective way to explore the dynamics of structure and process. He emphasizes land, labor, and capital as the basic parameters that influenced geographic patterns in colonial Mexico in his discussion of the natural and social context of land and property, the dynamics of economic transformation in rural central Guerrero, and struggles for control over grain in the late colonial period.

For more than 25 years, Amith has studied the Nahuatl language. He is part of a Mexican Consejo Nacional de Ciencias y Tecnologia grant for Nahuatl ethnobotany and works on grants with the Linguistic Data Consortium, University of Pennsylvania, and the Language Acquisition Resource Center, San Diego State University. He is an active collaborator and coauthor with Susan Guion (Linguistics, U. Oregon) on Nahuatl phonetics and phonology and with Mike Maxwell (Center for Advanced Study of Language, U. Maryland) on computer-generated language processing.
In 1998 Amith founded the Yale-Chicago Nahuatl Summer Language Institute. As part of this initiative he has developed a 10,000-word online dictionary with audio of main entries and example sentences, a 30-chapter reference grammar, and an extensive corpus (presently 100 hours of recording of which some 40 are transcribed). He is currently expanding these substantive materials and in developing generic electronic resources for the presentation and teaching.

Amith has been a research fellow in Latin American Studies at Gettysburg College since 2003. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan and doctorate from Yale University. Amith's work has appeared in several journals, books, and other publications including Linguistics, International Journal of American Linguistics, Tlalocan, American Ethnologist, and The Amate Tradition: Innovation and Protest in Mexican Art.

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