PROFile: George Fulford

Associate professor in anthropology, coordinator of linguistics program

No, George Fulford doesn’t dig stuff up or look for fossils. Fulford teaches in the anthropology department, and his focus is on language.

“My species of anthropologist is rare,” Fulford says. “I study linguistic anthropology, so I come at anthropology through the prism of language.”

He says language can shape and limit our beliefs and understanding of our culture and society. Among other things, Fulford has had the chance to study morphology—how you make words—in Cree.

“Cree words are really different from English,” he says “They’re made out of around 500 word-like pieces that you put together to make really, really long and descriptive words. Some people who speak German say it’s a little bit like that.”

But, it’s not really like anything else. Fulford has examined ways to teach Cree to primarily English-speaking students. He has also been working on a film project that looks at another kind of liminality—a documentary that follows a young woman who lives with chronic pain. He hopes to have the project complete within a year. 

Number of peer-reviewed articles published: 15, and a book: Sharing Our Success… I was the principal contributor and primary editor.

Lowest grade in university: A C+, which seemed really embarrassing at the time. I think what dragged me down was the statistics part.

What’s your superpower: Empathy. Social science is built on empathy. If you can’t understand another person, if you can’t have a conversation … then you really shouldn’t be a social scientist.

Who’s your role model: Richard Feynman, a legendary physicist. He prided himself on being a good teacher and says love is much more important than physics.

What’s the best thing about your work: Teaching.

What’s the latest book you read: Harry Frankfurt’s On Bullshit. I like it because he’s old and hasn’t stopped working, and he’s wise.

Published in Volume 71, Number 9 of The Uniter (November 3, 2016)

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