I’m an anthropologist interested in all things language, culture, and nature. For many years I’ve been working with a small indigenous group of hunter-gatherers, the Aché in eastern Paraguay, on topics such as language shift and endangerment, child socialization, and human–nonhuman relations. On this website you’ll find news about my research, writings, and videos.
Language endangerment has been a concern for many small-scale communities. But only little attention has been paid to new ways of speaking that different communities invent as their own creative responses to endangerment. In my research among the indigenous Aché communities in Paraguay, I have not only worked to document their heritage language, Aché, but also a newly emerging mixed language, Guaraché, that children learn as their first language. I am particularly interested in how children experiment and play with linguistic resources from different origins that they encounter in their environment and what that tells us about language emergence, linguistic differentiation, and metalinguistic awareness.
No matter where we grow up, during childhood we all develop an intuitive cultural understanding of fairness and justice, good and evil, and of our rights, duties, and obligations to others. But through what everyday activities do we actually acquire this understanding? And how might this happen in a society that is experiencing drastic changes in the social fabric that holds their communities together? In my research among the Aché I investigate how children are socialized into different moral norms and expectations in the two environments in which they grow up, forest and village, as these are tied to past and present ways of life and can therefore give insights into ongoing sociocultural change.
In times marked by anthropogenic environmental disaster, research on how we relate to the nonhuman world is more important than ever. Research on child socialization can give us crucial insights into how particular understandings of different kinds of nonhumans (such as animals, plants, forests, landscapes, or nature) emerge and the how ethical relations with these are developed. In my work among the Aché I look at children’s interactions with a variety of nonhumans they encounter in their everyday lives in different environments.
Learn more about all my research projects.
This is a short presentation on my dissertation research, part of the 2015 UCLA Dissertation Launchpad program.
You can find more of my videos on my media page.
Hauck, Jan David, and Teruko Vida Mitsuhara. 2020. “Sorry Not Sorry: Political Apology in the Age of Trump.” In Linguistic Inquiries into Donald Trump’s Language, edited by Ulrike Schneider and Matthias Eitelmann, 215–232. London: Bloomsbury.
Hauck, Jan David, and Guilherme Orlandini Heurich. 2018. “Language in the Amerindian Imagination: An Inquiry into Linguistic Natures.” Language & Communication 63:1–8.
Heurich, Guilherme Orlandini, and Jan David Hauck, eds. 2018. “Language in the Amerindian Imagination.” Special issue, Language & Communication, vol. 63.
Hauck, Jan David. 2014. “La construcción del lenguaje en Paraguay: fonologías, ortografías e ideologías en un país multilingüe.” Boletín de filología 49 (2): 113–137.
Hauck, Jan David. 2009. Language Under Construction: Bilingualism in Paraguay and Some Unsettled Thoughts about Language. Berliner Beiträge zur Ethnologie 19. Berlin: Weißensee Verlag.
I have taught linguistic and sociocultural anthropology at UCLA, UCSD, and Goethe University Frankfurt. My classes span topics such as culture and communication, language contact and multilingualism, ethnographic methods, Indigenous South America, gender, religion, and human–nonhuman communication. I frequently use findings from my own research to teach a particular topic, as in the video below.
The video is from a lecture I gave online at UCLA in 2020 during Covid-19 on linguistic differentiation and metalinguistic awareness. Using examples from my own ethnographic research with the Aché, I discuss what it means for two languages to be actually perceived as two different languages. The video illustrates codeswitching, language mixing, and metalinguistic awareness, and gives an overview over phenomenological theory including concepts such as intentionality, constitution, and phenomenological modification.
Read more about my teaching and teaching philosophy.