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Race Matters in World Language Study: The Case of African Americans Speaking Blackness in Brazil

November 1, 2023 @
5:00 p.m.
- 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time
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The 2023-2024 LLC Speaker Series presents Dr. Uju Anya

“Race Matters in World Language Study: The Case of African Americans Speaking Blackness in Brazil”

This presentation interrogates the notion that language studies programs are safe havens of multiculturalism free from racism and ethnic bias. It examines how the systemic exclusion of African Americans in the field of world languages defies our color-evasive myths of race neutrality and multiculturalism. It features cases of Black students engaged in world language study to illustrate how their race, gender, sexual, and social class identities are enacted and challenged in language learning. The experience of one group of African Americans learning Portuguese in Brazil is highlighted to illustrate ways Black students learn to speak their material, ideological, and symbolic selves in a new language. Additionally, how linguistic action reproduces or resists power and inequity is described, and lessons we can learn from their experiences in personal transformation through language learning are discussed. Ultimately, this presentation addresses how African Americans can more actively and meaningfully participate in language programs to show that identities and investments in diverse communities within and outside classrooms greatly influence Black students’ success in our field.


About the Speaker:

Dr. Uju Anya is a scholar of language learning and Black experiences in multilingualism. An associate professor of second language acquisition at Carnegie Mellon University, a 2023 Duolingo Research Fellow and 2023 Mellon Foundation New Directions Fellow, her primary fields of inquiry are applied linguistics, sociolinguistics, world language education, and critical discourse studies examining race, gender, sexual, and social class identities in new language learning through the multilingual journeys of African American students.


Co-Sponsored by the Department of Language, Literature & Culture, the Higgins School of Humanities, the Office of Diversity & Inclusion and the Department of Psychology.

This event is free and open to the public. A reception will be held in Dana Commons prior to the lecture at 4:30 p.m. Please RSVP by October 25 using this link.


November 1, 2023
5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.


Higgins School of Humanities, Dana Commons
36 Maywood Street
Worcester, MA 01610 United States
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