Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
This paper examines the racial politics of concurrent second-language (L2) socialization in Quechua and Spanish during a U.S. study abroad (SA) program focused on social justice for indigenous communities in Southern Peru. Drawing on Flores & Rosa’s (2015) raciolinguistic ideologies, my objective is to illustrate how the ‘white gaze’ is implicated in SA students’ development of sociolinguistic competence via L2 socialization practices that marginalize nonstandard linguistic features from the local community. I present ethnographic data collected over 18 months of participant observations in Cuzco, Peru, where local processes of racialization rest on perceived influences from Quechua in one’s Spanish. My analysis of classroom discourse and participant interviews revealed two key socializing practices regarding non-standard variants from the local contact variety of Spanish: Quechua to Spanish translation exercises and storytelling connected to students’ out-of-class observations. By connecting these variants to an incompetent, rural Quechua-speaking subject, language teachers routinely framed them as ‘funny errors’ and inappropriate targets for acquisition. In turn, students often repeated these same evaluations in interviews, extending them to other non-standard linguistic forms as well. No students adopted non-standard variants over the course of their SA program. These findings problematize established metrics of L2 sociolinguistic competence and invite a deeper consideration of race and racialization in second and foreign language socialization. Such considerations, I argue, are key to understanding how language learning in SA, including in programs involved in non-hegemonic and decolonizing practices, is often implicated in the reproduction of racial normativity and marginalization of language-minoritized communities.