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Drew University
Department of Spanish
212 Brothers College
Madison, NJ 07940
tel. 973.408.3615
fax. 973.408.3768

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Department of Spanish

Linguistic Studies

Latin American Studies

International and
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Language and Culture in Barcelona


Center for Civic Engagement



Language is an essential marker of identity in terms of nationality, ethnic/racial group, and individual conceptions of self. My research has attempted to interrogate the intimate relationship between language and both collective and personal constructions of identity. Language not only marks group and individual identification, but also informs social hierarchies and socioeconomic disparity. As a sociolinguist, my research probes and questions the inequalities perpetuated through the variable access and value ascribed to certain languages or language varieties. My research agenda explores the figurative and literal barriers that divide social groups and the practices that individuals use to reinforce and question these boundaries.

Intercultural Language Contact
I am particularly interested in spaces of intercultural language contact and the role of language in defining the dynamics of cross-cultural interactions. The ethnographic research I have conducted with Latino/a immigrants focuses on intercultural communication in the labor market and how language practices mediate the construction of social, ethnic/racial, and national identity. My recent research in the U.S.-Mexico border region has examined both informal labor markets and non-profit organizations.  

Critical Race Theory
In recent research, I have examined the social construction of race and have integrated the concepts of both race and ethnicity as categories of analysis. I am particularly interested in how immigrants and other minority groups are constructed as racialized Others in the media and everyday speech. My research in this area examines not only how racializing discourses subjugate minority groups but also how they perpetuate inequality by elevating the social construction of Whiteness.

Language Policy
My interest in language policy stems from the two years I spent as an undergraduate student at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez where my interactions with other students opened my eyes to the complex relationship that Puerto Ricans have with the English language. These experiences lead to the research for my master’s thesis that was a historical analysis of the role of language policy in shaping Puerto Rican national identity in the 1940s. In a similar vein, I have conducted archival research on language policy in Arizona during the territorial period of the late nineteenth century. In addition, I have completed projects on the role of language planning in constructing Pan-Mayan ethnic identity in Guatemala and on the transnational linguistic engagement fostered by the member nations of Mercosur in South America.

Community-Based Learning
I strongly believe in the importance making the local community an integral part of one’s research and teaching. I have integrated this practice into my own research agenda and have also created opportunities for my students to conduct locally meaningful research and service projects. As an educator, I strive to provide students the opportunity to integrate classroom learning, local knowledge, and service as equally important parts of their educational experience. I believe that community-based learning is a productive educational tool as part of the liberal arts curriculum because it pushes students to examine and expand their own interpersonal engagement with the community while simultaneously fostering the development of critical thinking skills and responsible citizenship.