Haviland and Roger Hart after a walking trek to Barrow Point, Australia, in 1984. "With my grimy hair standing on end I towered over Roger in his baseball cap. Covered with soot from the bush fires, our different skin colors had merged to a single, shared hue." (From Old Man Fog and the Last Aborigines of Barrow Point)
This respect for others is what has made Haviland such an integral part of the other cultures in which he's lived and contributed to his remarkable career as a linguist. He says, "An awful lot has to do with caring enough to learn something that other people just don't care about, like the language. It also has to do with the fact that you're putting in the effort that it takes to be able to communicate with people in the form that they're most comfortable with. I think that it makes a difference to them. They take you seriously as a human being in a way that they don't have to if you don't learn the language. The way I've worked has been fortuitous: I've come into contact with some fabulous teachers and they've taken me on as projects of their own. They really appreciated having someone give them serious attention, give them the idea that what they actually know about the world is worth enough to have someone spend a long time with them."

This past year Haviland has been spending as much time as possible in Chiapas, where Lourdes de Le˘n and their twelve-year-old daughter, Isa, have been living. De Le˘n, a specialist in language acquisition who formerly taught at Reed, has been working as director of the local center of the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en AntropologĦa Social (CIESAS), the Mexican research institute where both she and Haviland have worked for several years. Haviland has just taken a joint appointment with CIESAS; he will be working there on breaks and during the summer while he teaches at Reed.

Many other projects occupy Haviland, a man who never seems to stop moving. Among other pursuits, he is working on a study of gestures that accompany speech, including the gestures of infants. He has worked on a pilot project in Chiapas to teach linguistics to speakers of different Mayan languages, an experience that taught them how closely related their languages are. In the end, Haviland retains a clear perspective on where he fits into these many families and many homes in many places. "You don't kid yourself as an anthropologist that you ever really become a native," he said. "That's not a sensible thing to do, and it's not possible either. But I think you can incorporate the lives of the people you work with into your life and open your life to them."

Nadine Fiedler '89, assistant editor of Reed, says that the hardest class she took at Reed was John Haviland's course on Tzotzil.

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