Mara Green

Mara Green

Research Interests

Research Concentrations

Disability, Deaf Worlds, Linguistic Anthropology, Semiotics, Signed Languages


International Deaf Spaces; South Asia; Nepal


Green’s work focuses on questions of communication and ethics, asking what it means to understand, and be understood by, others. She is especially interested in how the capacity of people to make meaning together depends as much on a mutual willingness to do so as on shared linguistic resources. These topics have emerged through long-term fieldwork in Nepal, where she works with deaf people who use Nepali Sign Language (NSL, a conventional language), as well as deaf and hearing people who use “natural sign” (less conventional signed communicative practices).

One of the goals of her writing is to show how the way she thinks about the phenomena she studies owes as much to NSL signers’ own theories of language and sociality as to anthropological and linguistic theory. Her research methods incorporate participant observation, video recordings of interactions, and (on occasion) linguistic elicitation. She has also conducted short-term fieldwork in international deaf spaces, and is inspired by queer theory.


University of California, Berkeley, PhD in Anthropology, 2014

2017. “Performing Gesture: The Pragmatic Functions of Pantomimic and Lexical Repertoires in a Natural Sign Narrative.” Gesture 16, no. 2: 328-362.

2016. Coauthor with M. Friedner and A Kusters. “Deaf Community: Southern Asia.” In The Deaf Studies Encyclopedia, edited by G. Gertz and P. Boudreault, 55-58. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc.

2016. Coauthor with M. Morgan. “Sign Language: Southern Asia.” In The Deaf Studies Encyclopedia, edited by G. Gertz and P. Boudreault, 815-817. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc.

2015. “One Language, or Maybe Two: Direct Communication, Understanding, and Informal Interpreting in International Deaf Encounters.” In It’s a Small World: International Deaf Spaces and Encounters, edited by M. Friedner and A. Kusters, 70-82. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press. 

2014. “Building the Tower of Babel: International Sign, Linguistic Commensuration, and Moral Orientation.” Language in Society 43, no. 4: 445-465.

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