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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton May 24, 2021

The materiality of languages in engagements with the environment

  • Laura Siragusa ORCID logo EMAIL logo and Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen ORCID logo
From the journal Multilingua


Communication, an apparently intangible practice, does in fact affect the way people engage with their social worlds in very material ways. Inspired by both ethnographic and archival-driven research, this special issue aims to fill the gap in studies of language materiality by addressing entanglements with other-than-human agencies. The contributions of this special issue on verbal and non-verbal communicative practices among Indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities in the Global North and the South interpret language materiality as practice- and process-oriented, performative, and embodied relations between humans and other-than-human actors. The articles cover three major sub-themes, which ostensibly intertwine to a greater or lesser degree in all the works: (in-)visible actors and elements-related language; language materiality narrating and producing sociality; and the emotions and affect of language. The topic of this special issue, the materiality of languages, manifested in multiple engagements with the environment, proves particularly critical at the moment, given the current environmental crisis and the need to comprehend in more depth social relations with numerous other-than-human agencies.

Corresponding author: Laura Siragusa, Cultural Anthropology, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland, E-mail:


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Published Online: 2021-05-24
Published in Print: 2021-07-27

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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