Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies
Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies

Looking like a Language, Sounding like a Race

Raciolinguistic Ideologies and the Learning of Latinidad

Thu, February 21, 2019 | Gordon-White Building Multi-Purpose Room | GWB 2.206 | The University of Texas at Austin

4:00 PM

Looking like a Language, Sounding like a Race

The rapid rise of the U.S. Latinx population, now the nation’s largest demographic minority group, has heightened concerns about the future of American identity and brought increased attention to the institutional management of racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in a predominantly Latinx Chicago public high school and its surrounding communities, this presentation examines borders delimiting Latinx and American identities on the one hand, and co-naturalizations of language and race on the other. These foci reflect an investment in developing a careful theorization of interrelated racial and linguistic hierarchies, as well as a commitment to the imagination and creation of more just societies.

Jonathan Rosa's new book, Looking like a Language, Sounding like a Race, studies the fashioning of Latinidad in Chicago's highly segregated Near Northwest Side; he links public discourse concerning the rising prominence of U.S. Latinidad to the institutional management and experience of raciolinguistic identities there. Anxieties surrounding Latinx identities push administrators to transform "at risk" Mexican and Puerto Rican students into "young Latino professionals." This institutional effort, which requires students to learn to be and, importantly, sound like themselves in highly studied ways, reveals administrators' attempts to navigate a precarious urban terrain in a city grappling with some of the nation's highest youth homicide, dropout, and teen pregnancy rates. Rosa explores the ingenuity of his research participants' responses to these forms of marginalization through the contestation of political, ethnoracial, and linguistic borders.

Sponsored by: Latino Studies, Department of Spanish & Portuguese, Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program

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