Starting a Conversation with Rachel McGraw: Relationships, respect, and listening in sociolinguistic research with Totonac communities in Mexico

November 2, 2023, 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Arts 368, Institute for Community Engaged Research Arts Bldg, 1147 Research Road, UBCO

This is a hybrid event hosted by the Institute for Community Engaged Research (ICER).

Starting the Conversations is a speaker’s series hosted by the Institute for Community Engaged Research (ICER). The talks are meant to be more informal, and offer opportunities to think out loud, explore and exchange ideas.  Attendance is open to everyone. 

We’re delighted to announce the next Starting the Conversation* speaker will be Rachel McGraw, who will be talking about: Relationships, respect, and listening in sociolinguistic research with Totonac communities in Mexico.


Thursday, Nov 2nd, 2023 - 3:00 to 4:00 pm


In-Person Attendance:

Institute for Community Engaged Research
Arts Bldg, Room 368
University of British Columbia
1147 Research Road
Kelowna, BC, V1V 1V7

Virtual Attendance:

E-mail: for the Zoom link. 


In this discussion I explore the importance of relationships for conducting sociolinguistic research with the Totonac communities of Ozelonacaxtla and Huehuetla, Puebla, Mexico. My research explores language vitality of Totonac and multilingualism in Totonac and Spanish. I understand language vitality as underlyingly ideological, which means in order to assess vitality, it is essential to talk to people and listen carefully to them. This focus on listening requires establishing and maintaining respectful relationships with people throughout the research process: respecting and engaging in community protocols and social networks, using flexible and responsive interview methods, analyzing and writing in a way that reflects and respects people’s voices, and theorizing language vitality through a community informed perspective. I consider the importance of listening for establishing respectful relationships and for practicing community engagement throughout the research process.

Speaker Biography

Rachel McGraw is a PhD Candidate and SSHRC Doctoral winner in Linguistics at the University of Alberta, and a sessional lecturer in Linguistic Anthropology and Indigenous Revitalization in CCGS. Rachel has an MA in Spanish Applied Linguistics and has presented her research at a range of international conferences including the Canadian Anthropology Society, the American Anthropological Association, and the Society for Linguistic Anthropology.

First Nations land acknowledegement

We acknowledge that UBC’s campuses are situated within the traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh, and in the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan Nation and their peoples.

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