Remembering former Center professor M.J. Hardman

Dr. Hardman, who recently passed away at age 87, brought Indigenous linguistics to UF in 1969

Remembering former Center professor M.J. Hardman

February 13, 2023

Dr. Martha James Hardman, linguistics professor with the Center for Latin American Studies from 1969 until 2010, died on February 6 at the age of 87. Over the span of a remarkable academic career that began with a master’s degree at the age of 19 in 1956, Dr. Hardman forged new paths for linguistic anthropology and Indigenous linguistics education.

Dr. Hardman’s research focused on the community of Tupe, Peru, and the Jaqi language family (consisting of Aymara, Jaqaru, and Kawki) spoken in the Andean region. Her work, which comprised hundreds of hours of conversation recordings and notes, resulted in the first written grammar for the Jaqaru language in Peru.

The arrival of Dr. Hardman at the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies in 1969 meant the development of the university’s Aymara program – a landmark Indigenous language program at the level of higher education. Dr. Hardman stewarded “Aymara at UF” with U.S. Department of Education funding from 1969 until 1990. Then, in 2004, she resurrected the program for online education, with the help of an interdisciplinary team of linguists, instructional designers, and academic technology engineers to build an innovative online resource for Aymara, Jaqaru, and Kawki.

When Dr. Hardman retired in 2010, she wrote her colleagues a note that said she would "have presence in the UF ether, in perpetuity if all promises are kept." This presence is still felt at the University of Florida Center for Latin American Studies, through her groundbreaking work in Indigenous linguistics and the reverberation of her influence in our current Indigenous Studies courses, students, and faculty.

As for the community of Tupe, Peru, where Dr. Hardman devoted her life’s work: according to her obituary in The Alligator, the town’s church bell rang in her honor upon the news of her passing, and community members joined together to celebrate her life.


Read Dr. Hardman’s obituary in The Alligator:

Check out Dr. Hardman’s archived webpage here: 

Browse through her Dr. Hardman’s digitized library collection with photos and resources from her fieldwork on Aymara, Jaqaru, and Kawki languages dating back to the 1950s. 

If you'd like to make a donation to the Center in Dr. Hardman's memory, the Vivian G. Nolan Graduate Fellowship in Latin American Studies supports students studying Indigenous peoples and cultures. Vivian G. Nolan, an administrative assistant at the Center from the early 1960s until the early 1980s, worked closely with Dr. Hardman in the shared dedication to expanding Indigenous Studies programs at UF.

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