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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Here Now: Latinx Youth Language Brokers and the Politics and Possibilities of Ultratranslation
by Lopez, Audrey N., Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara, 2020, 338; 28148165
Abstract (Summary)

Begun as the documentation of a student interpreters program at a Southern California high school, this dissertation examines the visionary, disruptive, and everyday contributions of Latinx youth interpreters’ work as language justice activists through a combination of collaborative research and ethnographically-informed reflection. In 2011, despite ongoing processes of erasure and exclusion (Irvine & Gal 2000; Flores & Rosa 2015; Rosa 2016), multilingual Latinx youth in Santa Barbara who interpreted for their families started to gain institutional recognition and validation for their linguistic abilities and expertise. Realizing that questions of language access were key to engaging Spanish-speaking Latinx parents in their children’s education, a high school bilingual educator began training groups of Latinx students to interpret for their parents at annual Back to School Night events. By valorizing students’ full range of language practices and linguistic abilities within school settings, this program demonstrated a “radical practice of belief” in young people of color (Decena 2015) that has been historically and chronically absent from US educational contexts (Lippi-Green 1997; Rosa & Flores 2017; Bucholtz, Casillas, & Lee 2018). In 2016, despite the program’s immense popularity with both Latinx students and parents, the local school district disbanded the student interpreters program in favor of a model that utilized professional interpreters. This dissertation draws upon the anti-racist, anti-colonial framework of "ultratranslation" (Antena Aire 2013) to examine the life of the program, its meaning and impact for students and parents who participated in it, its cancellation and students’ subsequent activism, and its role as a catalyst for recent changes in language access policy in the Santa Barbara Unified School District. The data analyzed here were generated collaboratively, with and by Latinx student interpreters and their families, over a 15-month period spanning 2016-2017. Three youth participatory action research projects (Cammarota & Fine 2008; Cammarota 2011) were realized during this time: a collaborative radio show on a local university campus station, video-based activism through student-led interviews with peers and families, and a series of art workshops, studio visits, and interviews with contemporary artists. By analyzing the ways in which students challenged raciolinguistic ideologies of deficit (Flores & Rosa 2015; Rosa & Flores 2017) about their work across these various research contexts, my dissertation etches a larger narrative about the history, impact, and significance of the youth interpreters program that has not been documented before. By contextualizing this narrative within scholarship from the fields of linguistic anthropology, critical applied linguistics, and cultural studies, this project opens new avenues for understanding and supporting the contributions Latinx youth language brokers make to broader efforts of sociolinguistic, educational, and racial justice. This research generates urgent new insights for educators, administrators, and scholar-activists interested in thinking and acting with youth language brokers as they skate on the cutting edge of now, wayfinding a collective path towards more just and inclusive realities.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bucholtz, Mary
Commitee: Benjamin, Rick, Casillas, D. Inés, Zimman, Lal
School: University of California, Santa Barbara
Department: Linguistics
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 82/4(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, Cultural anthropology, Latin American Studies, Bilingual education, Ethnic studies, Language arts, Educational administration
Keywords: Child language brokers, Language access, Language justice, Latinx youth, Sociolinguistic justice, Youth language brokers, Ultratranslation, Southern California, Justice activists, Santa Barbara, CA, Radical practices of belief, Latinx students, Raciolinguistic ideologies, Racial justice
Publication Number: 28148165
ISBN: 9798684684685
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