1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Graduate Student


My research centers on efforts to document and revitalize the Dakota language at Lake Traverse Reservation in northeastern South Dakota. Like most Native American languages, Dakota is highly endangered, with approximately 500 remaining speakers in a population of more than 20,000 people. I have the privilege of participating in efforts to revitalize Dakota in two primary ways. On the one hand, I document playful and poetic genres of speech, which are often neglected in documentary research.


"I am currently based in Wamsok, a remote village in the Prince Alexander Mountains of Papua New Guinea (East Sepik Province). My dissertation draws on 18 months of ethnography and linguistic research in this community, with the goal of describing its endangered speech surrogate system.


I am interested in culturally and politically attuned ways of thinking through landscape, ecology, and climate. I have a special interest in how people work to bring new, less destructive modes of relating to nonhuman life into being, even from deeply compromised positions. Lately my interests have centered on indigenous political movements and the fraught ways these movements reckon with certain ideologies about race and negotiate relationships with sympathetic, non-indigenous environmentalists.


Xinyan Peng is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at University of Virginia. Her dissertation and book project is entitled We’ve Always Worked”: Professionalizing Life among White-Collar Women in Contemporary Urban China.


My research takes up questions of health, care, and personhood through the lens of linguistic anthropology.


Subscribe to RSS - Graduate Student