Language is an expression of complicated cultural histories and experiences, says Jonathan Rosa, a linguistic anthropologist and assistant professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education (GSE). His new book, Looking Like a Language, Sounding Like a Race, explores the racialization of language and its connection to issues of power and national identity.
“Everyday interactions that take place through language mobilize all kinds of histories and relationships and experiences that we don’t necessarily pay attention to,” he says on this episode of “School’s In,” hosted by GSE Dean Dan Schwartz and Senior Lecturer Denise Pope. “But they’re definitely at play in shaping our impressions of who people are.”
When it comes to teaching language in the classroom, “the ways we’ve constructed our schools is based on an assumption on what counts as legitimate language,” Rosa says. “That’s just a small sliver of what language is, yet we’ve elevated its status and weaponized it against particular populations.”
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