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Faculty members

Rosa, Jonathan

Jonathan Rosa
Jonathan Rosa
Academic Title 
Assistant Professor
Contact Information
Program Affiliations 
SHIPS (PhD): Anthropology of Education
SHIPS (PhD): Educational Linguistics
SHIPS (PhD): Race, Inequality, and Language in Education (RILE)
Anthropology and Education
Community Influence on Schooling
Latino Concerns in Education
Literacy and Culture
Race, Inequality, and Language in Education (RILE)
Social Theory
Urban Education

Dr. Rosa is currently completing a book manuscript, titled Looking like a Language, Sounding like a Race: Inequality and Ingenuity in the Learning of Latina/o Identities (under contract with Oxford University Press). His ethnographic account focuses on how administrators in a Chicago public high school whose student body is more than 90% Mexican and Puerto Rican seek to transform “at risk” Latina/o youth into “young Latina/o professionals.” This racialized class mobility project paradoxically positions Latina/o identity as the cause of and solution to educational underachievement. As a result, students must learn to be – and sound – “Latina/o” in highly studied ways. Students respond to anxieties surrounding their ascribed Latina/o identities by symbolically remapping borders between nations, languages, ethnoracial categories, and institutional contexts. This reimagining of political, linguistic, cultural, and educational borders reflects the complex interplay between racialization and socialization for Latina/o youth. The manuscript argues that this local scene is a key site in which to track broader structures of educational inequality by denaturalizing categories, differences, and modes of recognition through which racial exclusion is systematically reproduced in school contexts. 

As a sociocultural and linguistic anthropologist, Jonathan Rosa's research theorizes the co-naturalization of language and race as a way of apprehending modes of societal exclusion and inclusion across institutional domains. Specifically, he analyzes the interplay between youth socialization, raciolinguistic formations, and structural inequality in urban contexts. Dr. Rosa collaborates with local communities to track these phenomena and develop tools for understanding and eradicating the forms of disparity to which they correspond. This community-based approach to research, teaching, and service reflects a vision of scholarship as a platform for imagining and enacting more just societies. Dr. Rosa's work has been published in scholarly journals such as Harvard Educational Review, American Ethnologist, American Anthropologist, the Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Anthropology News, and the Journal of Adolescent and Adult literacy. In addition to his formal scholarly research, Dr. Rosa is an ongoing participant in public intellectual projects focused on race, education, language, (im)migration, and U.S. Latinas/os, and his work has been featured in media outlets such as MSNBC, NPR, CNN, and Univision.

In order to disrupt the linguistic reproduction of racialization and socioeconomic stratification, we must move beyond asserting the legitimacy of stigmatized language practices, focusing instead on interrogating the societal reproduction of listening subject positions that continually perceive deficiency. By changing our analytical strategy in this way, we can gain new insights into how the joint ideological construction of race, class, and language perpetuates inequality; we can also develop alternative frameworks that refuse to accept the terms of the debate proposed by “language gap” researchers. After all, as linguistic anthropologists it is our job to note the insidious nature of the suggestion that communities facing rampant inequality are simply in need of more or “better” words.

Rosa, Jonathan and Flores, Nelson. 2015. Hearing Language Gaps and Reproducing Social Inequality. In “Invited Forum: Bridging the ‘Language Gap.’” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology. 25(1):77-79. 

Ph.D., Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology, University of Chicago (2010)

M.A., Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology, University of Chicago (2006)

B.A., Linguistics and Educational Studies, Swarthmore College (2003)

2015-2016: Postdoctoral Fellow, Latina/o Studies Program, Northwestern University

2011-2015: Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts Amherst

2010-2011: Faculty Fellow, Latina/o Studies Program, Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University

Flores, Nelson and Rosa, Jonathan. 2015. Undoing Appropriateness: Raciolinguistic Ideologies and Language Diversity in Education. Harvard Educational Review. 85(2):149-171.

Rosa, Jonathan and Flores, Nelson. 2015. Hearing Language Gaps and Reproducing Social Inequality. In “Invited Forum: Bridging the ‘Language Gap.’” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology. 25(1):77-79. 

Bonilla, Yarimar and Rosa, Jonathan. 2015. #Ferguson: Digital Protest, Hashtag Ethnography, and the Racial Politics of Social Media in the United States. American Ethnologist. 42(1):4-17. 

Jocson, Korina and Rosa, Jonathan. 2015. Rethinking Gaps: Literacies and Languages in Participatory Cultures. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. 58(5):372-374. (Co-authored with Korina Jocson)

Irizarry, Jason and Rosa, Jonathan. 2015. Complicating Black and Brown Solidarity: Racial Positioning and Re-Positioning in “Post-Racial America.” In The Assault on Communities of Color: Exploring the Realities of Race-Based Violence, edited by K. J. Fasching-Varner, N. Hartlep, K. A. Albert, C. Hayes, R. Mitchell, G. R. Martin, C. E. Matias, and C. Allen. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield. Pp. 13-17.

Rosa, Jonathan. 2014. Language as a Sign of Immigration? In “Vital Topics Forum: On Latin@s and the Immigration Debate.” American Anthropologist. 161(1):156-157.

Rosa Jonathan. 2014. Nuevo Chicago?: Language, Diaspora, and Latina/o Panethnic Formations. In A Sociolinguistics of Diaspora: Latino Practices, Identities, and Ideologies, edited by Rosina Marquez and Luisa Martín Rojo. New York, NY: Routledge. Pp. 31-47.

Rosa, Jonathan. 2014. Learning Ethnolinguistic Borders: Language and Diaspora in the Socialization of U.S. Latinas/os. In Diaspora Studies in Education: Toward a Framework for Understanding the Experiences of Transnational Communities, edited by Rosalie Rolón-Dow and Jason G. Irizarry. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing. Pp. 39-60. 

Throughout the 2015-2016 academic year I will be in residence in the Latina/o Studies Program at Northwestern University on a Ford Postdoctoral Fellowship.