Sonia Neela Das, Assistant Professor of Anthropology

  • Office Address: Rufus D. Smith Hall 25 Waverly Place New York, NY 10003
  • Email:
  • Phone: 212-992-7476
  • Fax: 212-995-4014
  • Curriculum Vitae

Areas of Research/Interest

Linguistic anthropology, language ideology, language contact (ethnographic and historical perspectives), urban multilingualism, heritage language, mobility and migration, diasporic Tamils, Indian seafarers, francophone Québec.

Selected Publications

2015. A Sociolinguistic Division of Labor: Teaching Tamil as a Heritage Language in Montréal, Québec. Anthropologie et Sociétés. 39(2).

2012. La francophonie and beyond: Comparative methods in studies of linguistic minorities. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 22(3): In press.

2011. Rewriting the Past and Reimagining the Future: The Social Life of a Tamil Heritage Language Industry. American Ethnologist 38(4): 774-789.

2009. Review of Little India: Diaspora, Time, and Ethnolinguistic Belonging in Hindu Mauritius.
 Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 19(2): 328-330.

2008. Between Convergence and Divergence: Reformatting Language Purism in the Montreal Tamil Diasporas. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 18(1): 1-23.

2008. The Talk of Tamils in Multilingual Montreal: A Study of Intersecting Language Ideologies in Nationalist Quebec.Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism 8(2): 230-247.

Current News/Projects
Updated August 2014

This year I have finished up old projects and begun new ones. My book manuscript, Linguistic Rivalries: Tamil Migrants and Franco-Anglo Conflicts, is currently under review. Also, my research article has been accepted for publication in the French-language journal, Anthropologie et Sociétés, as part of the special issue, Diversité linguistique, transformations sociales et économie politique, edited by Alexandre Duchêne and Michelle Daveluy. I was the invited discussant for Becky Schulties’ presentation at the New York Academy of Sciences. Also, P. Kerim Friedman and I co-organized an AAA panel entitled “Scaling Linguistic Diversity: Language Standardization as a Scale-Making Project.” In this panel, I presented archival research on bilingual publishing in French and Tamil in the mid-19th century. I am particularly interested in the historical and social context of the trade in these books between colonial French India and French Guiana and am currently writing about this research in a separate article. I presented this work at the “Language and Colonialism” conference organized by CIRHUS at NYU last spring. I am also beginning a new ethnographic project on the multilingual practices of Indian seafarers aboard commercial cargo ships and presented this preliminary data at the “Merchants of Innovation: The Languages of Traders” conference held at the University of Cambridge last spring. Next year, I look forward to giving a series of four lectures on my research on francophone Tamils, in conversation with fellow linguistic anthropologist Matthew Wolfgram, at EHESS in Paris at the invitation of Francis Zimmerman. At NYU, I continue to teach the Department graduate seminar, “Linguistic Anthropology”, the undergraduate class, “Anthropology of Language,” and the undergraduate seminar, “Language, Power, and Identity.”