SLA Lecture: Undoing White Supremacy in the Language Disciplines

Mary Bucholtz

Mary Bucholtz
Professor and Chair, Department of Linguistics, University of California, Santa Barbara

3:00 pm Central time, Friday, September 11

Introduction and moderation: Katrina Daly Thompson, Professor and Chair, Department of African Cultural Studies; Core Faculty, SLA PhD Program

Abstract: The uprisings in protest of the state-sanctioned murders of Black Americans including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmed Arbery, and many others have sparked renewed attention to racism as a systemic and pervasive structuring principle of all aspects of U.S. society. For those in linguistics and the language disciplines, particularly those of us who benefit from racial privilege, it is imperative not only to use the tools of research to expose the role of language in upholding racism but more fundamentally to turn the critical gaze upon our own fields in order to identify and dismantle racist practices that continue to reproduce white supremacy in our teaching, research, and professional activities. Speaking from my own standpoint as a white senior scholar who is trying to become less racist, in this talk I will discuss the white-supremacist and colonial underpinnings of linguistics, applied linguistics, and the modern languages, both historically and in the present day. I then point to some of the specific individual and collective actions that need to be taken by educators, researchers, administrators, and students to reinvent our fields and the entire academy to center anti-racism, decolonialism, and social justice.

About the speaker: Mary Bucholtz is Professor and Chair in the Department of Linguistics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she is also affiliated with the departments of Anthropology, Education, Feminist Studies, and Spanish and Portuguese, as well as the programs in Comparative Literature and Latin American and Iberian Studies. She is a sociocultural linguist specializing in language, race, and racism in the U.S. context, with a particular focus on educational and other institutional settings. She is the author of White Kids: Language, Race, and Styles of Youth Identity (Cambridge University Press, 2011) and coeditor of Feeling It: Language, Race, and Affect in Latinx Youth Learning, New York (Routledge, 2018; with Dolores Inés Casillas and Jin Sook Lee), in addition to many other publications. Her current research focuses on dismantling racism and other forms of oppression in linguistics and other language-related fields.

Delivery format: The talk was held on Zoom.

Contact: Dianna Murphy, Director, Language Institute; core member, SLA PhD Program.

Sponsor: This lecture is part of the Second Language Acquisition Talk Series and is co-sponsored by the Language Institute. Funding is from the Anonymous Fund.