Coastal Guianas, Suriname
This project zooms in on the part of South America known as Guiana Littoral, and in particular on the northern part of Suriname and Guyana. In biophysical terms, this area is a patchwork of scrub savanna, primary rainforest and marshland sewn together by a connective network of waterways and draped over a rather unspectacular relief. This landscape has for centuries been home to a North-Arawakan people known as the Lokono (or Arawak), whose language and culture are highly endangered today.
Besides being the first in-depth analysis of the linguistic and cultural import of spatial conceptualization of any Arawakan language, this project is innovative in focusing on the ontological status of landscape features as Objects or Places in the broader context of the Lokono grammar of space. The Lokono case, remarkable among Amerindian languages for the historical depth of the documentation of the language, allows us not only to describe the synchronic state of affairs but also to trace back its origins to the 18th century.