Bernard Perley 229-4175Sabin Hall 329

Bernard Perley

Associate Professor


PhD, Anthropology, Harvard University
Masters, Architecture, University of Texas
BFA, University of Texas

Courses Taught

Anthro 105 - Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology
Anthro 314 - American Indian Societies and Cultures
Anthro 361 - Applications in Linguistic Anthropology
Anthro 540 - Applications in Anthropology: Native American Oral Traditions
Anthro 641 - Seminar in Anthropology - Repatriation: New Solutions, Old Problems
Anthro 804 - Linguistic Anthropology
Anthro 999 - Graduate Reading Course: Anthropological Semiotics


Bernard Perley's ongoing research and advocacy in language revitalization is an important contributing factor in a new research and advocacy trajectory exploring metaphors, cognition, agency, and emergent subjectivity. Perley's earlier work was diagnostic in determining the variety of pressures brought to bear on stigmatized languages and thus propelling them toward obsolescence and perceived eventual extinction. Perley argued that analysis was not enough to stop the language tip toward obsolescence and that critical attention must be paid to metaphors and rhetoric that experts use to convey their concerns to the general public. Perley's ethnography (2011a) highlights this critique and puts forward his own metaphor “emergent vitality” as a conceptual frame for redirecting language intervention away from “documentation only” practices to promoting communicative relations.

Perley’s article “Zombie Linguistics” (Perley 2012a) critiques prevailing metaphors of language “death” and “extinction” as both partial and influential in promoting kinds of actions while precluding others. Perley argued that the prevailing metaphors biased language experts toward documentation of the “code” rather than revitalizing the social relations that make the code a medium for vitalities of language, identity, and culture. Perley’s book chapter “Gone Anthropologist”(2013a) describes how alternative ethnographic representations integrate the various language “documents” into alternative ethnographic spaces so that the participant can experience indigenous linguistic worlds. These explorations integrated the fields of linguistics, sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, cultural anthropology, and indigenous studies into research and programmatic projects designed to promote indigenous language revitalization. These were important steps toward a broader integration of emerging interdisciplinary research trends that inform his current research interests.

Perley’s current research trajectory incorporates cognitive science, biological anthropology, narratology, and emergent languages (Perley et al. 2013b) in exploring the intersections of cognition, metaphors, narrative, and linguistic anthropology as an integrated approach to language revitalization (Perley 2011b).

Selected Publications

Perley, B. C., Noodin, M. A., & Black, H. M. (2019, June). Bimaadizijig gaa giizhenindaagoziwag ji-zaagi’igowaad. Pəmawhsowinowok kisiyapənik weci kseləmot. People were created to be loved. Sovereign Traces: Relational Constellation, 2, 3-15. Lansing, MI.: Michigan State University Press.
Perley, B. C., & Avineri, N. (2019, July (3rd Quarter/Summer)). Mascots, Name Calling, and Racial Slurs: Seeking Social Justice Through Audience Coalescence. Netta Avineri, Laura R. Graham, Eric J. Johnson, Robin Conley Riner, Jonathan Rosa (Ed.). Language and Social Justice in Practice, 147-156. New York: Routledge.
Perley, B. C. (2019, October (4th Quarter/Autumn)). Going Native..In Other Words. Natalie Konopinski (Ed.). Anthropology News, 60(5), 18-23.
Perley, B. C., Noodin, M. A., & Baldwin, D. (2018). Surviving the Sixth Extinction: American Indian Strategies for Life in the New World. Richard Grusin (Ed.). After Extinction, 201-233. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Heatherington, T. L., & Perley, B. C. (2017, May). Fieldnotes From Svalbard: How Global Dreamings Take Root in the Arctic Frontier. EuropeNow, 7.
Perley, B. C. (2017, July (3rd Quarter/Summer)). Future Imperfect: Advocacy, Rhetoric and Public Anxiety over Maliseet Language Life and Death. Paul V. Kroskrity and Barbra A. Meek (Ed.). Engaging Native American Publics: Current Anthropological Engagements, 107-129. New York: Routledge.
Perley, B. C. (2016). Gaming the System: Imperial Discomfort and the Emergence of Coyote Capitalism. Kennan Ferguson and Patrice Petro (Ed.). After Capitalism: Horizons of Finance, Culture, and Citizenship., 215-238. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Perley, B. C. (2014, December). Living Traditions: A Manifesto for Critical Indigeneity. Graham, L. R., & Penny, H. G. (Eds.). Performing Indigeneity: Global Histories and Contemporary Experiences, 32-54. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
Perley, B. C. (2014, August). Review of Sovereign Screens: Aboriginal Media on the Canadian West Coast. American Ethnologist, 41(3), 601. American Ethnologist.

Selected Exhibits

2014. Visualizing Sovereignty, Bernard C. Perley, Co-curator for an exhibit of contemporary American Indian art, architecture, poetry, sculpture, and prints. "Coyote's 1st World Casino", an installation piece. Bernard C. Perley, artist. Union Art Gallery, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee.

2008. Journeys in Spirited Landscapes. An exhibit of graphic ethnographies displayed at the UWM Gallery, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee.

1998 to present. "Toqawiw Tokec." An exhibit of pastel drawings visualizing the Maliseet language as integral to the Maliseet landscape. Currently on display in The Hall of the North American Indian at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Cambridge.