Dr. Nelson Flores (University of Pennsylvania) will be giving a CLA talk on February 16, 2024 from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m. EST. The talk will take place in 102 Foster Auditorium, Paterno Library.
Title: “Novelas o istorias embueltas en mil mentiras i errores”: Race and language in the construction of the modern/colonial order
Abstract: 1492 was a major turning point in Spain and by extension human history. It was not only the year that Columbus first arrived in what would become the Americas but also the year that the Spanish monarchy succeeded in expelling Jews and Muslims that refused to convert to Catholicism as part of La Reconquista and Antonio de Nebrija La Gramática de la Lengua Castellana, the first grammar of a modern language. At first glance, it may seem like these three events have little in common. Yet, Nebrija saw the purification of language as key to the continued purification of the Spanish population necessary for further consolidating the power of the Spanish monarchy. What Nebrija could not have predicted was that Spain would soon begin to create a new empire in lands previously unknown to them inhabited by people they had never previously encountered. It is in encounters with these new lands and people where Nebrija’s vision of a world of linguistic homogeneity would be further developed in relation to modern notions of race that would begin to overshadow religion as the major way of sorting the world’s population. This presentation traces the remapping of the world in Nebrija’s vision bringing particular attention to the ways that racialization has provided the ideological foundation for contemporary notions of competence that lie at the core of applied linguistics. It then points to alternative framings that embrace the inherent heterogeneity of language as the starting point for conceptualization language teaching and learning.
Nelson Flores is an associate professor in educational linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania. His research examines the intersection of language and race in shaping U.S. educational policies and practices. He has been the recipient of many academic awards including a 2017 Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship, the 2019 James Alatis Prize for Research on Language Planning and Policy in Educational Contexts and the 2022 AERA Early Career Award.