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Cambridge Language Sciences

Interdisciplinary Research Centre
Christopher Garcia shows Mexican indigenous instruments to attendees of the workshop

Exploring connections between musical heritage, art, archaeology and the ethnolinguistics of the Americas was the focus of a recent workshop co-sponsored by the Language Sciences Impact Fund.

The Multicoloured and Melodious Dimensions of the Americas workshop, co-sponsored by the Language Sciences Impact Fund and CRASSH, the Cambridge Centre for Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, took place on 4 July at Churchill College Chapel.

The event was a collaboration between Cambridge researchers in the Americas Archaeology Group, the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and Escuelita Cambridge – a local Community Interest Company (CIC) for Spanish language learners.

The workshop featured artist and ethnomusicologist, Christopher García, a trained percussionist specialising in Indigenous instruments from around the globe. 

García’s interests include Native American rhythmic percussion instruments, language revitalisation and ethnolinguistics about traditional music from Mexico. 

García introduced participants to several instruments and discussed relevant linguistic traditions – including defining Spanish- and Indigenous-language terms. 

Dr Joshua Fitzgerald, one of the event organisers and Junior Research Fellow in the Department of Archaeology, explains “García’s ethnomusicology is most focused on Nahuatl – a living language throughout North America and once the lingua franca of the ‘Aztecs’ – and Maya terms for objects. The research is based upon a database he has in development but also from the years García has spent sharing songs in Nahuatl, Spanish and English.”


This free public-facing event was an extension of the 2022-23 Multidimensional Dialogues: Entangling the Americas’ Pasts, Presents and Futures CRASSH research network. 

It paired with a stand-alone hands-on workshop that served the Spanish-speaking community of Escuelita Cambridge and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

The Language Sciences Impact Fund supports impact-related activities in the language sciences. The aim is to increase engagement and collaboration with non-academic partners. 

Photo: Christopher García presenting an Indigenous water drum called a ‘baa wehai’ to the group at Churchill College. Photo credit: Joshua Fitzgerald

What we do

Cambridge Language Sciences is an Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge. Our virtual network connects researchers from five schools across the university as well as other world-leading research institutions. Our aim is to strengthen research collaborations and knowledge transfer across disciplines in order to address large-scale multi-disciplinary research challenges relating to language research.