Dr Stephen Pax Leonard

Stephen Leonard

Background and Research Interests

Stephen Pax Leonard is an ethnographer who has worked principally in the Scandinavian and Arctic region. He has been a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at ISCA and a Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford. Previously, he was a Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge and a British Academy grantee. 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. He has done long-term fieldwork in Greenland and the Faroe Islands, and has also lived in Norway, Sweden and Iceland. He has published 5 books on Scandinavia and the Arctic, and his work has been covered in the print media, television and film (BBC, the Guardian, CNN, NBC).

He has taught graduate and undergradutate courses on theories and methods within anthropology, linguistic anthropology, doing ethnography and sociolinguistics at Oxford, Cambridge, SOAS and the Faroe Islands.

His research interests are broad and include: anthropology of radio, language and ideologies of power, ethnographies of belonging, anthropology of conservation and travel literature.

Selected Publications


2017. Travels in Cultural Nihilism: Some Essays. Arktos

2015. Some Ethnolinguistic Notes on Polar Eskimo. Peter Lang

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

2014. Arctic Journal. The Choir Press

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

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.

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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