Linguist Brook Danielle Lillehaugen Recognized for Engaged Scholarship on Zapotec Languages

Brook Danielle Lillehaugen

Brook Danielle Lillehaugen

Assistant Professor of Tri-College Linguistics Brook Danielle Lillehaugen will receive the 2018 Ernest A. Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement for Early Career Faculty at a ceremony later this month. The award is sponsored by the Swearer Center at Brown University in partnership with the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU). 

“I am excited about what this award will mean for the future of this work," says Lillehaugen, "as I am dedicated to continuing my collaboration with Zapotec language activists.”

Lillehaugen studies the modern and historical forms of Zapotec, a group of roughly 50 languages largely concentrated in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, and is interested in considering how academics can be effective allies to language activists. She offers courses in linguistics at Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Swarthmore, and is co-director of Ticha, an online digital text explorer for colonial Zapotec manuscripts. She also recently co-produced a documentary web series on Zapotec language and identity in one Valley Zapotec community, San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya.

“Any success I have achieved through this work would not have been possible without the many Zapotec teachers and activists I have collaborated with,” says Lillehaugen, “and I would like to mention a few: Felipe H. Lopez, Moisés García Guzmán, and Janet Chávez Santiago—xtyozën yuad [Thank you]!”

The annual Ernest A. Lynton Award recognizes a full-time faculty member who is pre-tenure at a tenure-granting campus or early career at a campus with long-term contracts, and who connects their teaching, research, and service to community engagement.

“Her work with speakers of endangered Zapotec languages in Mexico and the U.S. is a good example of a social scientist partnering with indigenous communities, while respecting their intellectual and cultural property,” says Associate Provost for Academic Programs and Professor of Linguistics K. David Harrison. “The work advances both scientific knowledge and the Zapotec community’s own goals for cultural revitalization.”

“Dr. Lillehaugen’s commitment to engaged scholarship is evident in her work and her approach,” says Mathew Johnson, executive director of the Swearer Center and associate dean for engaged scholarship at Brown University. “Dr. Lillehaugen’s scholarship exemplifies the qualities we hope become far more prevalent. Engaged scholarship is the necessary future of scholarship for colleges and universities to remain relevant and for them to fully realize the civic mission of American higher education.”