Illinois Global Institute

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Welcome to the calendar of the Illinois Global Institute. We are home to 10 longstanding international area studies centers and thematic programs. Bringing the units together as part of the IGI will improve organizational support, raise visibility, and foster additional cross-campus collaboration on essential international programs

''Speaking Like a White Person'': Analyzing the Co-construction of Language, Race and the Body through Racial Passing

Event Type
Department of Anthropology
230 Davenport Hall
Jan 24, 2023   4:00 pm  
Originating Calendar
European Union Center Events

This talk will analyze the co-construction of language, race and the body through the semiotics of whitening among Cameroonian anti-racist activists in Paris, France. By whitening, I refer to a form of racial passing consisting in the imitation of language practices of White people by Black subjects. I argue that by studying the co-construction of language, race and the body, we can address two key theoretical questions in linguistic anthropology. First, I address the question of the relationship between language, power and social change: how language can be used as an instrument of power for producing and maintaining racial hierarchies, along with gender and class power structures? And, paradoxically enough, how language can be used to challenge these same racial hierarchies, and open up possibilities for emancipation and social change? Second, I demonstrate that, by adopting a linguistic and semiotic approach to the social construction of race as an embodied sign, we can refine our understanding of the mutually constitutive relationships between language and the body.

About the speaker: Suzie Telep is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Linguistic Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. She holds a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Paris. Her dissertation examines the semiotic processes of racialization through language and the body among Cameroonian immigrants in Paris. She received the international prize Richard Mille - Francophonie in debate, and a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship from the European Commission. Recently, she co-edited a special issue of the leading Francophone journal Langage et société entitled ''Thinking about race in social approaches to language''.

This event will be held in a hybrid format. Click here for the Zoom link. The meeting ID is 831 8025 1941. The password is 116479.

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