Center for the Study of Language and Society (CSLS)

Center for the Study of Language and Society

Counting Latinxs: The production of ethnoracial, linguistic, and migrant identities in national censuses

Dienstag, 22.10.2019, 16:15 Uhr

Das Forum Language and Society ist eine Reihe von Gastvorträgen zu Themen der Soziolinguistik. Doktorierende der GSAH können sich die Teilnahme als Zuhörende mit 0,25 ECTS pro Vortrag anrechnen lassen. MA Studierende der Soziolinguistik können sich nach Teilnahme an 6 Vorträgen 1 ECTS anrechnen lassen.

Veranstaltende: Forum Language and Society
Redner, Rednerin: Jennifer Leeman (George Mason University)
Datum: 22.10.2019
Uhrzeit: 16:15 - 17:45 Uhr
Ort: F005
Lerchenweg 36
3012 Bern
Merkmale: Öffentlich

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 and linguistic classification schemes vary across places and historical moments, underscoring the variability of societal understandings of identity (Leeman 2004, 2013; Loveman 2014; Nobles 2000).  In the case of migration from Latin America, ethnoracial identities may be constructed differently in the sending and receiving societies (Roth 2012). 

I begin with an examination of 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 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.