MLL/MeXsu Seminar on 6th November 2019

A Modern Languages and Linguistics (MLL) / Centre for Mexico-Southampton Collaboration (MeXsu) seminar will take place on Wednesday 6th November 2019 from 17:00-18:40 in Building 65 Room 1177 at Avenue Campus. The seminar is entitled “Producing Latinx identities in the census: A comparative analysis of ethnoracial and linguistic classification” and will be presented by Jennifer Leeman from George Mason University. All welcome!

Here is the abstract for this seminar:

National censuses not only play a key role in the administration of modern states, they also contribute to the construction of nations and national identities (Anderson 1991).  In addition, the classification of the population according to various sociocultural characteristics reflects and reproduces particular ideologies of social difference (Kertzer & Arel 2002; Urla 1993).  Censuses also have epistemic effects, highlighting and quantifying particular types of information while obscuring others. Moreover, census ethnoracial classification schemes vary across places and historical moments, underscoring the variability of societal understandings of identity (Leeman 2004, 2013; Loveman 2014; Nobles 2000).  Thus, international migrants sometimes find that ways of understanding ethnoracial identity in the receiving country differ significantly from the sending country (Roth 2012). The census is one site of socialization into local identities (Leeman 2018).


This presentation examines the ideological and epistemic impact of census ethnoracial and linguistic classification, and of census-taking itself, with regard to Latinxs and Latin American migrants. I begin by contrasting the different mechanisms by which Latinxs are classified and counted in several national censuses, emphasizing both ideological and epistemic effects of the differing constructions of Latinx identity that they embody and officialize. Next, I analyze telephone interviews from the 2010 US census, highlighting differences between the census classification scheme and respondents’ understandings of ethnoracial identity. Interviewers and respondents alternatively resist and take up the official categories and discourses, negotiating and co-constructing identities, and demonstrating that census-taking is a site for the production, as well as the measurement, of Latinx identities.

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