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Unsettling race and language: Toward a raciolinguistic perspective

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 September 2017

Jonathan Rosa*
Stanford University, USA
Nelson Flores*
University of Pennsylvania, USA
Address for correspondence: Jonathan Rosa, Stanford University, Graduate School of Education, 485 Lasuen Mall, Stanford, CA
Nelson Flores, University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education, 3700 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA


This article presents what we term a raciolinguistic perspective, which theorizes the historical and contemporary co-naturalization of language and race. Rather than taking for granted existing categories for parsing and classifying race and language, we seek to understand how and why these categories have been co-naturalized, and to imagine their denaturalization as part of a broader structural project of contesting white supremacy. We explore five key components of a raciolinguistic perspective: (i) historical and contemporary colonial co-naturalizations of race and language; (ii) perceptions of racial and linguistic difference; (iii) regimentations of racial and linguistic categories; (iv) racial and linguistic intersections and assemblages; and (v) contestations of racial and linguistic power formations. These foci reflect our investment in developing a careful theorization of various forms of racial and linguistic inequality on the one hand, and our commitment to the imagination and creation of more just societies on the other. (Race, language ideologies, colonialism, governmentality, enregisterment, structural inequality)*

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017 

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We would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers who helped to focus and strengthen this manuscript, as well as Jenny Cheshire and Angela Reyes for their editorial guidance. We would also like to thank the audiences at the Advanced Research Collaborative at CUNY Graduate Center, Sociolinguistic Symposium 21 in Murcia, Spain, the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, and the Social Science Matrix at the University of California Berkeley, where we presented earlier versions of this work.


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