Dr Stephen Pax Leonard

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

Fellow by Special Election, Exeter College, Oxford


Email: stephen.leonard@anthro.ox.ac.uk

Teaching and Research Interests

Scandinavian Arctic, linguistic anthropology, ethnography of speaking, phenomenology of speech, ethnopoetics, existential anthropology, nationalism and politics in the Arctic, oral literature, travel literature, anthropology of radio

Stephen Pax Leonard studied modern and ancient languages before developing interests in linguistic anthropology. His doctoral research at Oxford examined how linguistic norms and social identities were established in early Iceland and how this identity was reflected in the literature. Subsequently, as a Research Fellow at Trinity Hall, Cambridge and as a British Academy grantee, he documented the language and oral traditions of a group of Inuit hunters living in remote, north-west Greenland. More recently, he lived in the Faroe Islands, working on a separate project which examines the development of a Faroese language ecology with a specific focus on the role of radio and poetry. His current research focuses on, amongst other things, ideologies of power and belonging, and the politics of folly with special reference to the role of radio in Sweden (and Russia).

His research has been covered widely in the Press, radio and television. In 2013, he worked on a major documentary on climate change presented by Ann Curry (NBC).



2016. Ideologies of Power and the Politics of Folly. (forthcoming)

2015. Some Ethnolinguistic Notes on Polar Eskimo. Peter Lang

2014. The Polar North: Ways of Speaking, Ways of Belonging. Francis Boutle

2012: Language, Society and Identity in early Iceland. Publications of the Philological Society. Wiley-Blackwell

Non-academic books

2014. Arctic Journal. The Choir Press 

Selected peer-reviewed journal articles and contributions to edited volumes

2016: A ‘High-Intimacy’ Language in the Atlantic: Radio and Purism in the Faroe Islands. Journal of Anthropological Research. Volume 72, Number 1: 58-77.

2015: “Spoken Language is a Prison”: Ways of Belonging and Speaking in North-West Greenland. Polar Record: 10-26.

2013: 'The Need to Belong: Social Connectedness and Spatial Attachment in Polar Eskimo Settlements. Polar Record: 1-9.

2013: 'Phenomenology of speech in a cold place: The Polar Eskimo language as "lived experience". International Journal of Language Studies, Volume 7, Number 1, January 2013: 151-74.

2012: Review of Topic and Discourse Structure in West Greenlandic Agreement Constructions by Anna Berge. Journal of Anthropological Research (JAR).

2011: 'Ethnolinguistic Identities and Language Revitalisation in a Small Society: the case of the Faroe Islands'. Journal of Northern Studies. Issue 1: 57-74.

2011: 'Relative Linguistic Homogeneity in a New Society: the Case of Iceland'. Language in Society 40: 1-18.

2011: 'Language Ideology and Standardisation in Iceland'. In Kristiansen & Auer (eds.) Standard Languages and Language Standards in a Changing Europe. Oslo: Novus Forlag: 91-7.

2011: Review of Standard Languages and Language Standards: Greek, Past and Present, edited by Georgakopoulou (A.), Silk (M.).The Classical Review. Vol 61: No.1: 5-8.

2010: 'Die färoeischen skjaldur: Eine gefährdete mündliche Überlieferung aus dem Nordatlantik'. Tjaldur, Heft 45: 50-66.

2010: 'Social Structures and Identity in Early Iceland'. Viking and Medieval Scandinavia 6: 147-59.

2010: 'Faroese skjaldur: An Endangered Oral Tradition of the North Atlantic'. World Oral Literature Project: Voices of Vanishing Worlds, Occasional Paper 1. University of Cambridge.

2008: 'Aspects of a West Norse legal Identity: the Icelandic Perspective'. Proceedings of the 13th European Forum of Young Legal Historians.

2008: 'Spatial References in Icelandic: the Issue of Identity'. Proceedings from LingO 2, The Oxford Postgraduate Linguistics Conference.


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