Oct 21, 2022: Jonathan Rosa

October 7, 2022

Undoing Competence: Coloniality, Homogeneity, and the Overrepresentation of Whiteness in Applied Linguistics

Jonathan Rosa

Associate Professor, Graduate School of Education, Stanford University

Conceptualizations of competence, which permeate applied linguistics, systematically fail to account for the role of racialization in language learning. Building on collaborative work with Nelson Flores to conceptualize the framework of raciolinguistic ideologies as a project of undoing appropriateness, this presentation seeks to draw on raciolinguistic perspectives to undo competence. To interrogate the racialization of competence, I first examine its emergence in conjunction with the ideological construction of linguistic homogeneity as central to the naturalization of race within the context of European colonialism. I then examine how ideas about linguistic competence took shape jointly with a genre of the human that is overrepresented as white and how this same genre of the human informed foundational conceptualizations of communicative competence. After examining relevant examples of how communicative competence has been taken up in ways that reify this racializing ideology, I end with alternative conceptualizations of language learning goals that draw from worldviews of racialized communities and refuse universalizing conceptions of competence as the desired outcome. 

Friday, October 21, 2022
B-4 Dwinelle & via Zoom, 3-5 pm
This lecture is sponsored by the College of Letters and Science.


Jonathan Rosa is Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Education, Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, and, by courtesy, Departments of Anthropology, Linguistics, and Comparative Literature at Stanford University. He is also Director of Stanford’s Program in Chicanx-Latinx Studies and President of the Association of Latina/o and Latinx Anthropologists of the American Anthropological Association. Rosa’s research centers on joint analyses of racial marginalization, linguistic stigmatization, and educational inequity. He is author of the award-winning book, Looking like a Language, Sounding like a Race: Raciolinguistic Ideologies and the Learning of Latinidad (2019, Oxford University Press), and co-editor of the volume, Language and Social Justice in Practice (2019, Routledge). His work has appeared in scholarly journals such as Harvard Educational Review, American Ethnologist, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, and Language in Society, as well as media outlets such as The New York Times, The Nation, NPR, and Univision.