Bernard Perley

Director of CIS & Professor

Office: Buchanan E 264
Phone: 604–827–5178

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Bernard C. Perley is Maliseet from Tobique First Nation, New Brunswick. He holds Bachelor of Fine Arts (studio arts) and Master of Architecture (architectural design) degrees from the University of Texas, Austin. His PhD is in Social Anthropology from Harvard. His academic training is interdisciplinary and aims to transcend disciplinary boundaries to serve his commitment to Indigenous community-based research and advocacy.

Bernard is an activist/advocate Indigenous anthropologist. His professional contributions to the American Anthropological Association include: Core Member/Member of the Task Group on Language and Social Justice (since 2010), Minority seat representative on the AAA Executive Board (2013-2017), Ombudsperson (since 2018), and President-Elect of the Society for Linguistic Anthropology (2019). His language research and advocacy continue to be expressed through publications and professional conferences as well as community-based projects such as collaborative art installation pieces, keynote presentations, and language revitalization workshops.

Bernard’s critical analysis of discourses on language death and endangerment in his monograph Defying Maliseet Language Death: Emergent Vitalities of Language, Culture, and Identity in Eastern Canada (Nebraska 2011) shifts metaphors of “language death and extinction” toward metaphors of “language life and vitality”. He asserts an Indigenous praxis of “emergent vitality” as an empowering stance for communities who are working toward language life. His ongoing writing, research, and teaching integrates language, landscape, and identity to enhance Indigenous language revitalization.

Bernard’s current projects are both creative and research directed. His personal cartoon series Having Reservations explores humor as a means of healing historical trauma associated with centuries of colonial oppression of Indigenous peoples of North America. His published series Going Native (in the professional publication Anthropology News) is a critical reflection on Anthropology history, contemporary practice, and disciplinary future. Both comic series serve as loci for exploring the intersections of cognition, metaphors, narrative, and language.