Summary of Unsettling race and language: Toward a raciolinguistic perspective by Johathan Rosa and Nelson Flores

In Unsettling race and language: Toward a raciolinguistic perspective Johathan Rosa and Nelson Flores details the topic of language and race. The main arguments the author makes are how and why language and race are related throughout history and now using a raciolinguistic perspective. A brief description of the ethnographic examples used to support this argument is shown within the five sections of the article in which discuss the five elements of a raciolinguistic perspective.

The first section of the article called “Historical and Contemporary Co-naturalization of race and language as Part of the Colonial Formation of Modernity” discussed two elements of modern European colonial formation which are race and language being linked to certain racial groups. Europeans believe colanism was justified because they believed non- Europeans were inferior to them. European colonizers believed indegeous people lacked knowledge and weren’t human because of the way they spoke. As a outcome of Spanish and US colonialism both Latin American and the US were stereotyped. Latin America was seen as brown and spanish-speaking and the US was seen as white and English-speaking.

The second section of the article  called “Perceptions of Racial and Linguistic Difference”  discussed Inoue’s work on how perceptions of language are related to social categories that produce ideas of linguistic signs. This part of the article suggests that certain languages are associated with certain races. This section shows examples of racism towards African Americans and Latinos. The third section of the article called “Regimentations of Racial and Linguistic Categories” discussed how schools use linguistic screener to put language into particular racial groups. The fourth section of the article  called “Racial and Linguistic Intersections and Assemblages” discussed how race and language can be put into the social construct of gender. The fifth section of the article  called “The Contestation of Racial and Linguistic Power Formations” discussed how language forms political and economic orders of global capitalism.

The evidence is presented in a way that makes it clear on how it is intended to support the author’s argument because each section has a title that represents the way in which it supports the evidence. It adequately does so by discussing the historical colonial America and the modern school system. The author’s argument helps us understand that language works by connecting it to race. The author might be making this argument because they want to bring attention to their main topic. Something in the argument that is surprising or that contradicts something traditionally thought about language is its connection to gender. This article relates to an article called “Nah, We Straight’: Black Language and America’s First Black President.” by Alim, H. Samy, & Smitherman, Geneva because in this article African Americans connect Barack Obama  language to his race by saying he ‘sounds black’. 

Alim, H. Samy, & Smitherman, Geneva (2012). “‘Nah, We Straight’: Black Language and America’s First Black President.” In Articulate While Black: Barack Obama, Language, and Race in the U.S. 1-30. New York: Oxford University

Press.Rosa, Jonathan, and Nelson Flores. 2017. “Unsettling Race and Language: Toward a Raciolinguistic Perspective.” Language in Society 46 (5): 621–47.

One thought on “Summary of Unsettling race and language: Toward a raciolinguistic perspective by Johathan Rosa and Nelson Flores

  1. In the first paragraph you identify the topic of this article and a very general argument. But you don’t give the reader any sense of specifics; in particular, since they’re using the term “raciolinguistic perspective,” it would be very helpful to your reader and critical to your summary to be explicit about what they mean by this.

    Your third paragraph goes into detail about how the article is organized, but it doesn’t give the reader a good sense of what the authors are saying in each section and how that relates to their overall argument. You could improve this paragraph by omitting the section titles and giving a broad overview of the logic of their argument, while trying to avoid more technical terms and explaining the ones you use (for example, most people don’t know what a “screener” is so this should be explained if you mention it).

    The critical discussion you offer is very vague. Your summary would benefit from being much more specific about how they say language relates to race (and gender, if you include that). And while they’re surely writing this to bring attention to the topic, why are they doing that? Why does this matter in the real world, and/or to other linguistic anthropologists?

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