Kristina Wirtz

Photo of Kristina Wirtz
Kristina Wirtz
Pronouns: she, her
Professor of Spanish
(269) 387-nnnn
(269) 387-3103
817 Sprau Tower, Mail Stop 5338
Mailing address: 
Department of Spanish
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5338 USA
Office hours: 

Wednesday, 1 to 3 p.m. 
via Webex

  • Ph.D., Linguistic and Cultural Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, 2003
Research interests: 
  • Linguistic and sociocultural anthropology: history, methods and theory; African Diaspora, Caribbean, Latin America and the United States
  • Semiotics and discourse analysis: language and idendity, ritual and performance, language ideologies and metacommunicative awareness, bilingualism, language learning and socialization, linguistic marginalization, temporality, enregisterment
  • Race and racialization: processual and historical approaches, anthropology of history and memory, critical race theory, diaspora, Black Atlantic, performativity, embodiment, mobility

Dr. Kristina Wirtz is a linguistic and cultural anthropologist in the Department of Spanish at Western Michigan University. She studies popular religion, race and performance in eastern Cuba and linguistic diversity, identity and inequality in the U.S. Wirtz has published two books:

  • Ritual, Discourse and Community in Cuban Santería (University of Florida Press, 2007)
  • Performing Afro-Cuba: Image, Voice, Spectacle in the Making of Race and History (University of Chicago Press, 2014; winner of 2015 Edward Sapir Prize from the Society for Linguistic Anthropology).

She has also published articles on topics including ritual speech, hazardous (ritual) waste and Afro-Cuban folklore societies. Her most recent publications are:

"Scopic Regimentation of Cuban popular altars" in Semiotic Review

"Ritual Communication" in the International Encyclopedia of Linguistic Anthropology 

"Racializing performances in colonial time-spaces," in the Oxford Handbook of Language and Race

"The materiality of oricha voice in Cuban Santería" in Journal de la société des américanistes

In addition to two decades of field research in Cuba, Wirtz has also studied how children learn to be bilingual in a dual language elementary school in the U.S. She enjoys teaching about the theory and methods of semiotics, discourse analysis and ethnography, as well as about language, history, and culture in the Caribbean and Latin America.