Palenquero Creole: Language and Culture

Map of San Basilio de Palenque, main square in village.

Join a team of linguists and other researchers to explore the linguistic structures and cultural importance of Palenquero Creole. 

Project is Not Currently Available

This project is not being offered for the current term. Please check back next semester for updates.

Project description

Join a team of linguists and other researchers to explore the linguistic structures and cultural importance of Palenquero Creole.

Palenquero Creole is an Afro-Hispanic language used by approximately half of the population of San Basilio de Palenque, a village located in northern Colombia. A number of its speakers also live in coastal cities in the region, like Cartagena and Barranquilla.

The language, which during the 20th century faced considerable stigma and a resulting reduction of inter-generational transmission, is now in the midst of a revival, facilitated by education, music, gastronomy, cultural practices, public awareness, and research.

The goal of this project is to document the language, study its development over time, identify key factors that result in its maintenance and transmission, and collaborate with local leaders in San Basilio de Palenque to support community-centered projects.

Student team members will work remotely and / or in person to contribute to already collected language data, as well as to develop new projects. You'll learn the basics of ethical fieldwork, collaborate with UB students and Palenquero speakers, meet with invited speakers, and develop skills that connect to recording, transcribing, coding, and other aspects of sociolinguistic research.

Project outcome

Student team members will be encouraged to present their work at academic conferences at UB and beyond. Those who participate in the project long-term may be involved in grant writing and co-authored article publications. 

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment 6-9 months
Start time

Fall (August/September)

Summer (May/June)

In-person, remote, or hybrid? Hybrid Project
Level of collaboration Individual student project
Benefits Academic credit may be possible with approval of professor, academic advisor(s), and relevant academic department(s) 
Who is eligible All undergraduate students  with Spanish high intermediate proficiency or above

Core partners

Project mentor

Colleen Balukas

Assistant Professor of Spanish

Romance Languages and Literatures

Phone: (716) 645-2794


Start the project

  1. Email the project mentor using the contact information above to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. (Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor.)
  2. After you receive approval from the mentor to start this project, click the button to start the digital badge. (Learn more about ELN's digital badge options.) 

Preparation activities

Once you begin the digital badge series, you will have access to all the necessary activities and instructions. Your mentor has indicated they would like you to also complete the specific preparation activities below. Please reference this when you get to Step 2 of the Preparation Phase. 

1. Complete CITI training for COI / Social Behavioral (three certificates in total; only for students who will work directly with human subjects or with resulting data):

2. Familiarize yourself with San Basilio de Palenque's history and origins:


Romance Languages and Literatures, Linguistics, Spanish, Palenquero Creole, Fieldwork, Language, Bilingualism