I am an anthropologist, linguist and broadcaster. I am an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia and serve as Chair of the First Nations Languages Program. I am a Visiting Associate Professor at the Yale School Forestry & Environmental Studies and held the post of Program Director of the Yale Himalaya Initiative from 2011-2014. I am co-editor of Himalaya, the longest running open access and peer-reviewed journal of Himalayan studies.
My research interests are language conservation, documentation and endangerment; cultural diversity and oral traditions. For over twenty years, my regional focus has been the Himalayan region (particularly in Nepal, northern India and Bhutan), and more recently, the Pacific Northwest.
I direct two international research initiatives, Digital Himalaya and the World Oral Literature Project. I edit the Oral Literature Series with the Open Book Publishers. In 2013, I presented a three-part BBC radio series entitled Our Language in Your Hands, and have just recorded my next BBC radio project on language politics and policy in Bhutan and Burma. I am one of three principal investigators on a five-year collaborative research project supported by the Arcadia Fund to document Bhutan’s oral traditions.
I write about language policy, linguistic rights, cultural heritage and mother tongue instruction. I also focus on issues of access and ownership of anthropological materials from ethnographic museums when they circulate online or are returned to communities in digital form. As a firm advocate of collaborative research, I am committed to widening public engagement with anthropology and linguistics.
My office and home are located on the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓-speaking Musqueam people.