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Unformatted text preview: Journal of Language and Politics 3:3 (2004), 507–534 . issn 1569–2159 / e-issn 1569–9862 © JohN BENjamINS PublIShINg CompaNy Racializing language A hIStory of lINguIStIc IdEologIES IN thE U¡ CENSuS* JENNIfEr LEEmaN GEorgE MaSoN UNIvErSIty TIS artIclE buIldS oN rESEarch oN INStItutIoNal laNguagE polIcIES aNd practIc- ES, aNd oN StudIES of thE lEgItImIzatIoN of racIal catEgorIES IN cENSuS data col- lEctIoN, IN aN ExploratIoN of laNguagE IdEologIES IN thE U¡ CENSuS. ¢t tracES thE chaNgES IN laNguagE-rElatEd quEStIoNS IN thE two cENturIES of dEcENNIal SurvEyS, coNtExtualIzINg thEm wIthIN a dIScuSSIoN of chaNgINg polIcIES aNd pattErNS of ImmIgratIoN aNd NatIvISm, aS wEll aS EvolvINg hEgEmoNIc NotIoNS of racE. ¢t IS arguEd that thE U¡ CENSuS haS hIStorIcally uSEd laNguagE aS aN INdEx of racE aNd aS a mEaNS to racIalIzE SpEakErS of laNguagES othEr thaN £NglISh, coNStructINg thEm aS ESSENtIally dIFErENt aNd thrEatENINg to U¡ cultural aNd NatIoNal IdENtIty. Keywords: CENSuS, racE, racIalIzatIoN, NatIoNal IdENtIty, laNguagE IdEology CENSuSES play a kEy rolE IN thE dE¤NItIoN of NatIoNal aNd group IdENtItIES, aNd thEy arE cloSEly lINkEd to thE aSSIgNatIoN aNd lEgItImatIoN of polItIcal powEr. REcENt StudIES of thE U¡ CENSuS havE INvEStIgatEd thE wayS IN whIch thE dE- lINEatIoN of oﬃcIal racE catEgorIES haS both rEﬂEctEd hEgEmoNIc IdEologIES of dIFErENcE aNd bEEN ImplIcatEd IN thE lEgal aNd SocIal racIalIzatIoN of pEoplE markEd aS dIFErENt (E.g., ¥oblES ¦§§§; RodríguEz ¦§§§). HowEvEr, StudIES of oﬃcIal racIal IdENtItIES gENErally havE Not lookEd at thE rolE of laNguagE aNd laNguagE IdEologIES, a lacuNa whIch thIS ExamINatIoN of thE U¡ CENSuS laN- guagE quEStIoNS IS dESIgNEd to addrESS. AS thIS aNalySIS wIll Show, hEgEmoNIc IdEologIES of laNguagE, aNd of thE rElatIoNShIpS amoNg laNguagE, racE, aNd Na- tIoNal IdENtIty, havE playEd aN ImportaNt rolE IN thE U¡ CENSuS’S oﬃcIal coN- StructIoN of dIFErENcE. 508 Jennifer Leeman Te present study builds on research regarding the relationship of insti- tutional policies and practices to language ideologies (e.g., Silverstein 1996; Woolard 1998), and on historical examinations of language ideologies in the US (e.g., BonFglio 2002; Pavlenko 2002; Ricento 1998; Wiley 2000), as well as on studies of the legitimization of racial categories in census data collection (e.g., Kertzer and Arel 2002; Nobles 2000; Rodríguez 2000). My interrelated goals are to explore how the US Census has reﬂected and propagated speciFc ideologies of language, and to contribute to an understanding of oﬃcial con- structions of race and of American identity. Because debates over immigra- tion and citizenship policies (like censuses) play a key role in the “race-making process” (Carter, Green and Halpern 1996), I contextualize the examination of language questions within a discussion of changing policies and patterns of im- migration and nativism, as well as evolving hegemonic notions of race. I argue that the US Census has historically used language as an index of race and as a...
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