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Release: Immediate

Ethics Seminar: UI professor to examine Indians' language use

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Amazonian Indians use their native language as more than a means of communicating words. When interacting with foreign populations, language becomes a cultural resource -- a means of sharing their heritage with outsiders.

University of Iowa anthropology professor Laura Graham will explore this use of language as part of this fall's series of Ethics Seminars, sponsored by the UI College of Business Administration, the Project on Rhetoric of Inquiry, and UI International Programs.

Graham's lecture, "Amazonian Indians in International Fora: Some Linguistic Dilemmas," is Friday, Oct. 3, from noon-1:15 p.m. in Room S401 of the Pappajohn Business Administration Building.

Graham has carried out anthropological research among Amazonian Indians since 1981 and has served as a consultant for UNICEF and World Wildlife Fund in programs dealing with the Xavante Indians of Central Brazil.

Amazonian Indians have captured international attention since the mid-1980s and have especially intrigued environmentalists in developed nations because the Indians are perceived as "natural guardians" of the environment.

Some Indians have played to these First World ideals about Indians and "Indian-ness" and used their symbolic appeal to achieve concrete political beliefs. For example, when appearing in international public spheres, many Indians have attempted to maximize their "symbolic value" by wearing ornate bodily adornments. By exploring dilemmas of Indian leaders' language use, Graham's presentation considers a further dimension of Indians' symbolic politics in international arenas.

For further information about the seminar, contact the Project for Rhetoric of Inquiry at (319) 335-2753.