Professor Jonathan Rosa (Stanford University) sits down with Contributing Editor Benjamin Bean to discuss raciolinguistic ideologies, a framework developed by Rosa and Professor Nelson Flores (University of Pennsylvania) to critique the racialization of various speaking subjects and their linguistic practices. The interview begins with a focus on this concept and related themes in Rosa’s book, then turns to a consideration of broader implications of this work for academia, anthropology in particular.
A common thread throughout this interview is the issue of coloniality, both broadly construed and more specifically with regard to how it shapes and manifests within educational contexts. In particular, Rosa comments on the question of decolonizing or unsettling anthropology, reflecting in some closing remarks on the usefulness and concerns around platforms such as #AnthroTwitter for challenging the colonial logics within our own discipline.
Jonathan Rosa is Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Education, Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, and, by courtesy, Departments of Anthropology and Linguistics, at Stanford University. He is author of the book Looking like a Language, Sounding like a Race: Raciolinguistic Ideologies and the Learning of Latinidad (2019, Oxford University Press) and co-editor of the volume Language and Social Justice in Practice (2019, Routledge). His work has appeared in scholarly journals such as the Harvard Educational Review, American Ethnologist, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, and Language in Society, as well as media outlets such as MSNBC, NPR, CNN, and Univision.
Bonilla, Yarimar. 2017. “Unsettling Sovereignty.” Cultural Anthropology 32, no. 4: 330–39.
Bonilla, Yarimar, and Jonathan Rosa. 2015. “#Ferguson: Digital Protest, Hashtag Ethnography, and the Racial Politics of Social Media in the United States.” American Ethnologist 42, no. 1: 4–17.
Mignolo, Walter D. 2007. “Delinking: The Rhetoric of Modernity, the Logic of Coloniality, and the Grammar of De-coloniality.” Cultural Studies 21, no. 2–3: 449–514.
Rosa, Jonathan. 2019. Looking Like a Language, Sounding Like a Race: Raciolinguistic Ideologies and the Learning of Latinidad. New York: Oxford University Press.
Rosa, Jonathan, and Yarimar Bonilla. 2017. “Deprovincializing Trump, Decolonizing Diversity, and Unsettling Anthropology.” American Ethnologist 44, no. 2: 201–8.
Rosa, Jonathan, and Vanessa Díaz. 2019. “Raciontologies:
Rethinking Anthropological Accounts of Institutional Racism and
Enactments of White Supremacy in the United States.” American Anthropologist.
Rosa, Jonathan, and Nelson Flores. 2017. “Unsettling Race and Language: Toward a Raciolinguistic Perspective.” Language in Society 46, no. 5: 621–47.
Zentella, Ana Celia. 2016. “Spanglish: Language Politics Versus el Habla del Pueblo.” In Spanish-English Codeswitching in the Caribbean and the US, edited by Rosa E. Guzzardo Tamaro, Catherine M. Mazak, and M. Carmen Parafita Couto, 11–36. Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Ben Bean [00:00:18] Welcome to AnthroPod, the podcast of the Society for Cultural Anthropology. My name is Ben Bean. I'm a contributing editor for AnthroPod and I'm very excited to bring you this episode. An interview with Dr. Jonathan Rosa, assistant professor in the Graduate School of Education, Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity and by courtesy departments of Anthropology and Linguistics at Stanford University. Professor Rosa's book, Looking Like a Language. Sounding like a Race, Racio-Linguistic Ideologies and the Learning of Latinidad was published by Oxford University Press in early 2019. We sat down to talk about the racialization of language practices and how this relates to ethnicity and citizenship, as well as the particular semiotic approaches Rosa finds useful for thinking through these issues. My interest in Professor Rosa's work began with some of his earlier writing on the coloniality of anthropology and academia more broadly. In addition to some of the publications cited in this episode, Rosa's commentary on Twitter has helped me think through various aspects of my research pertaining to U.S. colonialism in Puerto Rico. I asked him to elaborate on what it might mean to decolonize or unsettle anthropology and how a platform such as Twitter might transform our scholarly communities. While his responses should give us at least some hope about the future of anthropology and how we might respond to racism, white nationalism and injustice more broadly, he employs us to recognize the conditions in which higher learning institutions emerged. The conditions in which new media have been developed and how these spaces or platforms serve to reproduce a number of inequalities, despite opening up opportunities for critique and solidarity against these inequalities.
BB [00:02:29] Professor Jonathan Rosa, welcome to AnthroPod.
Jonathan Rosa [00:02:33] It's great to be here. Thank you for having me.
BB [00:02:35] Your new book from Oxford University Press is Looking Like a Language, Sounding Like a Race, Raciolinguistic Ideologies and the Learning of Latinidad. So this book is based on several years of fieldwork at New NW High School in Chicago, where you worked as a tutor, among other things. So you begin with a pretty compelling discussion of stigmatized student bodies, how administrators and teachers try to transform these students, and how students are faced with a broad scope of anxieties racial, class, gender, sexuality, and these anxieties often get in the way of their learning. But you were much more than just a tutor to the students, it seems. You spent time with them outside of school, often in their homes. So, can you tell us about this experience and how it ultimately led to your book?
JR [00:03:26] Sure. So, I actually began working in Chicago Public Schools during my first year of graduate school. And really during my first quarter and first few weeks of graduate school, I was working in multiple after school programs throughout the city and I was trying to do this kind of work just to sort of not just supplement my income, because I was a graduate student, but also because that kind of work with kids in communities had been really important to me throughout my undergraduate experience and even before that. So I knew that in order to build a life for myself, I would need to be engaging in community building, not just on campus, in my graduate program, but also in the city of Chicago. So, I didn't initially think that the work that I was doing in after school programs was going to inform in a direct way my graduate work or my graduate trajectory. But as soon as I started working in these schools, I was simply in awe of the unique . . . what I experienced as a profoundly unique cultural context that was Chicago. So really looking at the city's African American, Mexican, and Puerto Rican populations particularly, and learning about their interrelationship, learning about the ways that Polish populations in Chicago are positioned in relation to these groups as well, and just making sense of all how this plays out in particular institutional settings. So I was doing this work in schools. I learned about the ways that Chicago was a unique site for the creation of these Mexican and Puerto Rican kinds of shared identities, but also frictive identities in certain ways.
JR [00:04:57] And so, yeah, I ended up with these questions. I was just faced with an institutional context, a set of institutional contexts in which on one level there was the sense that these kids in these communities are facing profoundly inequitable environments, profound structural disparities and profound experiences of spatial, racial, class exclusion articulated in some ways in relation to gender and sexuality, ability, other kinds of dynamics as well. And on another level, so much of so many of the efforts towards addressing these kinds of challenging circumstances in relation to which people's people are sort of constructing their lives, so many of the efforts was addressing all of that were focused on modifying individual behaviors. So, change the way that you use language, change the way that you raise your kids, change the way that you dress, change the way you present yourself. And so whereas problems are often conceived as structural, on one level, they're taken up or intervened in as though they were individual or behavioral. And so I was trying to make sense of that set of contradictory sorts of attachments and investments, but also thinking about these theoretical issues around the role of race as this identitarian position versus this existential problem in the United States; the idea of borders around nation states, around languages and around identities as straightforward facts versus these crises or these sorts of philosophical dilemmas that people were trying to grapple with in various literatures.
BB [00:06:32] Seems like you were very personally invested in this. And when I heard you give a talk at UC Davis a few months back, the conversations that you share which end up in the book as well, but you shared some audio recordings of these conversations and it sounds like you really built up a rapport with students. What were some of the challenges or maybe some of the things you found easy about interacting with high school students?
JR [00:06:59] Sure. So I have worked with students, I mean . . . When I was a high school student, I was already aspiring to become a teacher. And so I was working in elementary schools for the time. I was a high school student in these sorts of after school settings. And it's something even from before high school. So I had been doing this for a really long time. And so some of these kinds of projects and investments were well established for me and very . . . These environments were quite comfortable for me. On one level, just the feeling of being in those sorts of educational environments, there is a profound familiarity. On another level, Chicago was brand new to me and so I just wanted to learn about everything. I wanted to learn about music, and fashion, and history, and food, and things, aesthetics broadly construed. So haircuts come up in conversations and other sorts of dynamics. The things that the kids were interested in! It meant that I had to learn how you wear your jeans, how you wear rubber bands at the bottom of your jeans, if your jeans are too long. How you get those rubber bands from the postal delivery person who will wrap the mail in rubber bands and then you keep them. And that's what all of these different sorts of things. You go to this barber shop when you're broke. You go to this barber shop when it's an important event and you save up for it. And this is where you're going to sort of have this kind of experience versus this experience, you listen to this radio station during this hour of the day when you want to hear the juke sort of mix and you listen to this radio station at this hour of the day when you want to hear something else.
JR [00:08:33] So I was sort of having experiences in the school that were familiar to me in this longstanding way and then having all of these experiences, both in the school, in the community that were completely novel. And I think part of the energy that I tried to bring to the book and to the research out of which the book arose was just the awe that I experienced in the face of these communities in Chicago, where I saw people who were creatively navigating incredibly, incredibly complicated circumstances and precarious circumstances where, you know, the forms of instability that the people were facing, associated with encounters with violence, encounters with all of the sorts of narratives, pathologizing narratives about urban contexts that circulate across a range of platforms and a range of venues. So I was encountering all of that, but also encountering these communities that had developed really careful analyses of those struggles and strategies for responding to them collectively. And so I think I wanted to bring all of that to the book, which was, you know, on one level I was deeply interested in and excited about the theoretical models I was learning at the university. But equally, if not more, excited by and interested in the theoretical and analytical models that I saw emerging from within these neighborhoods. So what you see in again, sort of the account, is the way that I would play a tutorial role with the kids. And so in all of my field notebooks, you see all of my sort of documentation of interactions and then quadratic formulae. And math is always what I was recruited to tutor, all of my notebooks are just scattered, littered with with different algebraic equations often. And then my notes about what time it was, what someone was wearing and what happened between these two people interactionally.
JR [00:10:29] So, you know, I was playing the role of, with the students, this kind of teacherly role. And so some of the students would refer to me as Teacher Jonathan, or Mr. Rosa, this kind of thing. Now, the other tutors in the school were almost all junior college students, which is to say they were attending local city colleges, two year colleges within the city of Chicago, and they were often graduates of the high school who had accessed college and then also were recruited to come back to the high school because of the role that they had played there, to work in the school and to serve the students there. And so it's really exciting for them to be both aspiring toward success in higher education and to be working with students. In this kind of community open enrollment neighborhood high school, which is to say a school that is not a selective enrollment magnet school. So it's not one of the schools that's slotted for access to higher education. So the fact that these kids graduated from a neighborhood school and were in higher ed or in college was great. Now, I, as a doctoral student was associated with these other tutors who were in their first couple of years of undergrad. And so there were a lot of the teachers who saw me as an undergraduate college student, even though they had signed the consent forms. And I said: "I'm a doctoral student, this is my dissertation, it will likely be a book. Are you willing to participate?" So I told them who I am, but that, in the everyday interactions because ultimately I functioned as a tutor in the school, from most of the teachers perspectives, my sense was that they oriented to me as though I were positioned very similarly to the other tutors, which is to say they were deeply unfiltered in many situations. And even though it became clear at different moments when I interviewed them one on one, and then they started to understand the nature of the study that I had tried to present to them earlier. So I was occupying these different institutional positions, vis-à-vis the teacher, vis-à-vis the students and the administrations. Lots of different positions that I was trying to navigate.
BB [00:12:32] Well, let's talk about math now. Nah! Let's not.
JR [00:12:36] People don't know that I'm a math nerd. That's what upsets me, you know? Well, OK, there's lots to say about these these kinds of topics or whatever. But yeah, once upon a time, I was a mathlete. You know, I had a dad. You know.
BB [00:12:49] I think it's great!
JR [00:12:49] When I was a middle school student, I was called up to the varsity math team in high school or whenever. So there's something to say about that, that math situation, but also the nerd situation because of some of the educational opportunities. I mean, I attended public schools. K through twelve, but, you know, a relatively rural environment in western New York, a predominantly white rural environment where although it was a very working class community, there were tremendous educational opportunities available. But part of that experience for me of identifying, having been positioned as a nerd and identifying in these ways with school is that I was deeply aware of the opportunity, learning opportunities that some people have been afforded and provided. And all of the ways that various other people have been denied access to those sorts of opportunities, while also understanding the limitations of narrowly focusing on what are constructed as mainstream academic learning sorts of projects.
JR [00:13:53] And so, you know, on one level, I wanted to expand opportunities to make sure that all students had access to educational sorts of experiences that validated them. On another level, I wanted to think about the ways that this isn't just a project of inclusion or access, but really kind of rethinking why schools have been constructed in the ways that they have in the first place, or a disciplinary subject. Areas like math have been constructed in the ways that they have in the first place. Because I know that lots of kids who don't pass math tests do math all day long as part of their everyday lives. And yet, when it comes time to draw on those sorts of skills in a mainstream classroom, something doesn't quite compute. And I think that that is less to do with math and much more to do with schools as institutions. So, you know, I think part of what I've been grappling with some time is how this incredibly sort of powerful phenomenon that is something like learning is reduced to something quite small within mainstream educational institutions. And then we suggest that learning happens authentically only inside those institutions, which couldn't be any . . . I often find many mainstream schools as the places which are the last sites that I would look to for learning in any kind of transformative way.
BB [00:15:09] You said something a few minutes ago about how, you know, you learned what you were learning at University of Chicago in your doctoral studies. You were informed by these theories, but a lot of the concepts and theory work is also coming out of the students and the other people that you're interacting with in the field site. And so raciolinguistic ideologies, it's it's actually an idea that you developed with Nelson Flores, right? So it's a way to think about a racial spectrum, such as black/white or black/Latino/white, and how people fall into categories such as bilingual, English language learner, native speaker, and so on. So tell us what raciolinguistic ideologies means, first of all, and how the students and your other interlocutors helped you to arrive at this concept?
JR [00:16:01] Sure. So, part of what I've just been so interested in since I was an undergraduate student was majoring in linguistics. So I was a linguist before I was an anthropologist. But because of the particular language issues that interested me most, which were language and power, language and identity, language and history. I found that so often in my linguistics courses, if those issues were addressed or engaged at all, it was often at the very end of class conversation, or conversations in the final weeks of a given course. And so these sorts of sociolinguistics issues weren't front and center. They were on the periphery. So when I discovered the subfield of linguistic anthropology within the discipline of anthropology, at least in the Americanist project of anthro, I was just so excited because I said, oh, wait, so these people who are interested in language, power, history, institutionality, identity, these kinds of issues, this is exactly what I want to do. So I was deeply inspired by this sort of disciplinary project that is linguistic anthropology and critical approaches to language in general, which for me challenged the notion that what are often perceived as "language problems" challenge the idea that those are really about language at all. I mean, so a classic adage within any language ideologies sort of approach is that ideas about language are never just about language. And so what you find is often broad sorts of sociocultural, historical dynamics are often reduced to minute features of language, and that is, that process is so incredibly compelling to me, which is to say how minute pronunciation patterns, minute grammatical patterns, minute lexical or word choices. This kind of thing are framed as high stakes signs of whether you are American in the U.S. or foreign. And that's based on a notion, a particular notion of the Americas, whether you are socioeconomically positioned in a particular way, whether your gender and your ability and your various sorts of subject positions are overdetermined in relation to these minute kinds of patterns. So the relationship, the historical production of that kind of relationship, I found vastly fascinating to me.
JR [00:18:12] And what I found in so many situations, and linguists have known this for some time, is that there are very seemingly arbitrary ways in which we pay attention to particular linguistic patterns, but not others. So some populations are said to lack linguistically or to sort of be suffering from verbal deprivation or a language barrier or a language gap, these kinds of various alleged problems or deficiencies, but when you actually observe what people are doing with language, you find, oh, OK! People are facing a range of challenges around access to healthy food, affordable housing, a living wage, electoral representation, and the access to safety or to justice, even broadly construed whether that could even exist in a place like the United States. And so people are facing a range of challenges that often get reduced to language, as though if they would just learn English or just learn so-called standard or academic English, then the structure of the economy would transform and they would have access to viable livelihood or wellness, broadly construed. And so I think the concept of raciolinguistic ideologies is intended to provide a particular lens on these sorts of dynamics, is intended to say, wait a second! How is it that we've often approached these populations as people who either lack English, who lack standard English, or who lack the standard variety of a language other than English. So people who are positioned as so-called heritage learners, how is it that in various literatures, we have often approached these populations as though they were completely separate from one another, when in fact, they are inhabiting a shared position as these sorts of others or marked subjects in mainstream educational contexts.
JR [00:19:58] So the initial iteration of raciolinguistic ideologies was intended to disrupt our prevailing assumptions about the differences, the problems, that populations are understood to bring to classrooms and mainstream school spaces. I should say the initial publication of our writings on raciolinguistic ideologies, which is in the Harvard Educational Review, is speaking to these concrete school spaces, but really we're building from this long standing set of existential concerns that I've had and other sorts of issues that have interested Nelson for some time. I mean, this dynamic of looking like a language and sounding like a race is tied to raciolinguistic ideologies, based on these perceived problems or deficiencies. This marked status around race and language and the historical kind of predicament that is race in language. And so what I argue in the book, for example, is that the relationship between race language and governance hasn't been fully understood. So often within anthropology or linguistic anthropology, we talk about the so-called Herderian language ideology, which is based on a German Enlightenment philosopher, Johan Gottfried Herder, whose ideas sort of suggested that—and this is in the context of the emergence of the rise of the European nation-state and the modern nation-state—and so as Herder is rationalizing this alongside other sorts of actors as well, there's the notion that nation-state boundaries correspond to a population and correspond to a language. And so there is a people who have a spirit. That spirit is reflected in their heritage and their language. And all of those sorts of dynamics or all of those sorts of phenomena are naturally tied to a set of geographical borders.
JR [00:21:46] So that "one nation, one language, one people" sort of dynamic or imaginary has been a long interrogated concept in linguistic anthropology and related fields. Now, the peopleness of that "one language, one nation, one people" part, I don't think has been fully interrogated in terms of the ways that race undergirds what constitutes peopleness in relation to an imagined nation state, set of nation state borders. So whereas I think we fully deconstruct . . . Not necessarily fully deconstruct . . . Whereas we've carefully deconstructed the borders that demarcate nation-states and shown how they've shifted over time, depending on different sorts of political and economic context, or political and economic exigencies, and we've deconstructed linguistic borders to say, hey, what look like two languages aren't necessarily separate. So Hindi and Urdu are not separate from one another in a straightforward way, they share grammatical patterns, but they have separate flags of India and Pakistan, so they're often imagined as separate languages, but they don't function as separate languages for everybody. So, those borders have been deconstructed. But the borders that constitute a people as a people and the ideas about race that inform the construction of those borders, that part of things I don't think has been fully understood within linguistic anthropology related fields.
JR [00:23:07] And so I find that within linguistics, socio-linguists have carefully looked at the relationship between language and race, but often in an effort to just demonstrate a given racialized population's linguistic patterns, which on one level historically, I think that was important work. We've sought to validate and show the rule governed systematic nature of, say, African American English or Spanglish of Puerto Rican and Mexican populations in the United States and other groups as well. So those socio-linguistic projects, I think were important at one moment historically, but we're in a different moment now, where I think it's important for us to sort of build from that previous work to say, wait a second, how is it that we have not understood the role of race in defining what nation-states are and defining what languages are, and defining what modern governance is, or modern economies are. The powerful role of race, articulating the powerful role of race in organizing modern life has been my . . . At this point, lifelong intellectual project, and I think it will continue to be. And I think raciolinguistic ideologies is one part of that project.
BB [00:24:13] Maybe stepping somewhat outside of the book context for a moment here, can you talk about how raciolinguistic ideologies are at play within U.S. and global politics or popular media? You talk about the intersections of language and race and governance quite a bit, and obviously there's a lot of relevance here for linguists and for anthropologists. What do you think are some of the more broad implications of your work?
JR [00:24:48] As I mentioned a few minutes ago, what interests me most about studying language patterns is the way that, again, minute features of language can become positioned as high stakes signals of belonging, of legitimacy, of intelligence, of personhood broadly construed. And so for me, the relevance of this conversation about raciolinguistic ideologies and language ideologies more broadly is sort of saying, wait a second, this is a lens into figuring out the kinds of worlds that we have constructed, where certain forms of personhood are legitimate and other forms of personhood are illegitimate. So the question around viable personhood in modern life, I think, is deeply anchored in these kinds of dynamics and language is positioned as a sign of viable personhood, or legitimate or illegitimate personhood. So for me, whether we're talking about casual encounters in everyday life or broadly circulating popular cultural representations, I think these, this interplay between language and race and language and identity in general, is a chance to understand, or attention to those kinds of interplay between language and identity is an opportunity to understand the scripting and the reproduction of these kinds of boundaries in real time. And so for me, what look like casual jokes, casual commentary, casual recognition, are in fact mobilizing profound histories of colonialism, profound histories of racial capitalism, profound histories of patriarchy, profound histories of a set of ideas around ability and legitimate sort of capacity or one's capacity for thought, this sort of thing.
JR [00:26:35] So, yeah, I think that these issues are not just relevant to schools and not just relevant to the United States, and not just relevant to the twenty-first century, but are rather intended to suggest that we should be drawing some connections across historical, institutional, political, and economic context to kind of see how these boundaries have been made to cohere and people's positions within certain sorts of boundaries and talk about nation state boundaries or institutional boundaries, other sorts of boundaries as well. But people's positions are, I think, being scripted, and orchestrated, and organized in relation to these seemingly mundane communicative practices. And so for me, the argument that I would make is, you know, everyone, anyone who's interested in representation is by extension interested in language and communication, and so it's so sad to me that linguistic anthropology is often framed as this arcane sort of marginal subfield within the broader discipline of anthropology and the social sciences at large. With these sort of very polysyllabic, jargony, sort of commitments and analytics that are inaccessible and irrelevant to people who are working outside of studying or grammar or pronunciation patterns or sound patterns, this kind of thing.
JR [00:28:02] So for me, linguistic anthropology is a powerful lens for rethinking how we got to be where we are and where we could be, how things could be different. So I am profoundly inspired by these tools because I think that they are relevant to nearly every aspect of human life. And some might say, well, if this is relevant to everything, then is it really doing anything at all? Well, I think I can show you or we could look at some of the ways that any sort of dimension of human life, there's a communicative or we should say a semiotic element to it. And understanding having some tools for making sense of semiotics practices and patterns, I think could lend insight and sharpen our understandings of the relationship between signs and contexts, the conditions of possibility for how we got to be where we are, and also, again, where we could be.
BB [00:28:58] Let's talk about semiotics a little bit more here, because especially in chapter three "Latino Flavors," you talk about the ways in which people embody Latinidad, not just people, but objects and various practices and people, bodies, possess certain qualities, right? They take on a whole range of meanings. You touch and ghettoness and lameness as a couple of these qualities that are embodied and articulated in different ways. And you use the concept of qualia, which I'm particularly interested in. I've come across this in a lot of my reading on food. Can you talk about how you're thinking about qualia, how you're thinking about semiotics more broadly, and how it might be useful for us to think with?
JR [00:29:45] Sure. So, for me, the power of a semiotic approach and the potential benefit of working with a concept like qualia is, you know, these approaches to me resonate deeply with insights that I see emerging from the communities where I'm conducting my research. And so it's not so much that I am taking a concept like qualia or drawing on whatever range of semiotic approaches one might be aligned with or affiliated with, and then imposing them on the context of where I'm conducting my research. For me, if qualia were irrelevant to the work, to the context where we're conducting my research in terms of . . . If it didn't seem to resonate with what I saw happening on the ground, then I wouldn't draw on it. So it's for me, the power of a semiotic approach is an attention to context and contextual specificity. And I think that there are potential benefits to that, but also profound potential drawbacks and challenges. So let's talk about both. So the potential benefit of attention to context is—and that's what semiotics is all about, the relationship between signs and context—the benefit is to kind of say, wait a second. How is it that this site where I am conducting my research is this profound space from which to theorize and analyze the world, to make sense of the world, to make sense of social, cultural, historical, political dynamics? And so you mentioned categories like ghettoness and lameness, which are inflected racially, socioeconomically, reflected in terms of gender and sexuality, as I show in the book. And those are abstract qualities of ghettoness and lameness that can then be mapped on some music, to food, to language, to embodiment broadly. So every various dimensions of social life can be inflected with these sensibilities.
JR [00:31:36] And so qualia is an abstract set of sensations that are locally sort of grounded in a particular way or anchored in a local context. So what counts as a sign of, say, lameness or uncoolness? And we should talk, we can talk about lameness historically as an invocation of disability, but in the context of the research disability is then reconstrued as uncoolness. So lameness is contrasted with ghettoness, which within the school in the context of questions about students who are simultaneously viewed as at risk youth or as ghetto and who are being recruited to become ideal students or to become sort of more institutionally validated students or aligned students (hence "lame" for them), that dynamic between ghettoness and lameness reflects a broad set of anxieties surrounding their identities and a broad set of institutional projects for managing their identities. So the qualia that emerge within a given site are really interesting to attend to. In some spaces, people looked at concepts of lightness and darkness or heaviness, this kind of thing, and looked at the kinds of implications and consequences of those locally anchored sensibilities that get mapped on to become the frames through which everyday life is experienced in a given context. And figuring out the specificity of that I think is incredibly powerful.
JR [00:33:02] That for me is one of the benefits of a semiotic approach. You get to honor what's happening in a local context, honor local ways of not just experiencing the world, but also theorizing and analyzing the world. I'm excited about that. Now, the problem with the semiotics approach from my perspective is that sometimes this emphasis on the local can prevent folks from drawing connections across contexts, to kind of say: Wait a second, this isn't just about what's going on in this context, we can in fact see that there are clear relationships across different sorts of situations. To say that historically, politically, economically, colonially there are ways that these populations' experiences are not just by chance or even qualia like ghettoness and lameness are not just about this neighborhood in Chicago where I was working, those are for me, those kinds of concepts are circulating throughout the United States and in many ways throughout the modern world in different ways.
JR [00:34:02] You know, I'm Puerto Rican and I know that concepts, there is a concept of ghettoness in Puerto Rico that's very strong. And so in my work, not just in Chicago, in this neighborhood, but just my life experiences and my work elsewhere, I know that these concepts don't just emerge in that space. Now, a semiotic approach would lead us to say: Wait a second, are you suggesting that the same word is used across different contexts? Does that mean that the same concept is being used? And what is the relationship between a word and a concept? These are things that we would want to grapple with. So I'm excited about semiotic approaches, but I want to trouble them because of the, I think, in some ways, the narrow focus on a single context can prevent some of my colleagues from drawing connections across contexts. And I think prevent them from, in fact, exploring the full power of what a semiotic approach can achieve, which is to both honor the local while drawing connections across scales and across contexts to make sense of patterns of power that I think we have a unique responsibility to recognize, and to speak to, and to push back against, and to reimagine.
BB [00:35:11] You tweeted something the other day, and we'll talk more about Twitter later on, but you mentioned that Charles Peirce's philosophies . . . There are some problematic aspects of semiotics, at least Peircean semiotics. Can you explain a little bit more about that?
JR [00:35:27] Trying to get me to give away my publications? [Laughs] This is an argument that I'm developing right now. So I'll say a little bit about it because I've already presented on this; to be clear, I'm not just giving away my argument. I've presented on some of these issues before at AAA and elsewhere, in terms of my concerns with the status of the sign within Peircean semiotics and its uptake by contemporary linguistic anthropologists. I worry that for a lot of my colleagues, language ideologies are merely perspectives or points of view that are layered on top of an empirically existing sign or an ontologically present sign, which is to say the signs are out there, we can observe them, and then these ideologies get laid on top of them, and the ideologies become the frames through which we perceive the meaningfulness of given signs as good or bad, as right or wrong, as correct or incorrect. This kind of thing. What I found in my work, and part of the point of raciolinguistic ideologies, is that those signs aren't just there. You can't just go observe signs. That often someone could be perceived as speaking a given language, but that doesn't mean that they're speaking that language. That's a matter of perspective, we would want to say on one level. But the ontological or empirical status of the sign to me is not particularly stable. And in fact, I'm not convinced, I'm deeply concerned by the empiricist sorts of, the ways that empiricist investments and attachments have been infused into linguistic anthropology and other normative social sciences, such that observation has been framed less as an ideological sort of enactment and more as an encounter with an existing set of objects in the world. Now that might sound sort of abstract and apolitical. Let me show you how it becomes consequential.
JR [00:37:20] So I've written about the ways, for example, that in Trayvon Martin's encounter with George Zimmerman, who killed him, killed Trayvon Martin who was an unarmed African American teenager in Sanford, Florida. And so when George Zimmerman encounters Trayvon Martin, Trayvon Martin is carrying a bag of Skittles and an iced tea, a can of iced tea, that are perceived as a weapon and drug paraphernalia. So in Yarimar Bonilla's and my article on #Ferguson, we write about the semiotic rematerialization of the body, the way that skin color can be darkened, the way that one can be perceived as threatening or dangerous if they're wearing a hooded sweatshirt, which is perceived as 'thug-wear' when certain people wear it or just as collegiate when other people wear it. So this, the materiality of the sign of a sweatshirt, of Skittles, of a can of soda or iced tea, this kind of thing, has no fundamental semiotic meaning, grounding, apart from normative whiteness, I would argue, in a modern world, that Skittles are Skittles when they're inhabited by, animated by, oriented in relation to normative whiteness. When they're not, they don't get to be Skittles or they don't have to be Skittles, they can be transformed into a gun; or a cellphone can become a gun, or hair, hairstyle, or all of these different dimensions.
JR [00:38:47] In a forthcoming article that I coauthored with Vanessa Díaz that's coming out in American Anthropologist, we write about the ways that in the closing argument of the trial of George Zimmerman, his defense attorney disputed the claim that Trayvon Martin was unarmed by bringing in a slab of sidewalk and he held the sidewalk, cement, up in front of the jury and said he was not unarmed, Trayvon Martin was not unarmed, he was armed with the sidewalk that he used to bludgeon George Zimmerman. So the idea is that the sidewalk is weaponized when, again, it's inhabited by blackness. And so this racial re-materialization of reality or re-ontologization of reality, I think poses significant, significant challenges to any normative empiricist approach to one's research, which is to say you don't just get to go observe things and say that, you know, this is a table, this is a book, this is a chair. They're not just the table, book, and a chair. We got to figure out how they come to be constituted as such based on a given set of dynamics. And so the Peircean framework, for me, at worst, what I worry is that framework has been taken up in ways that naturalize our existing world while purporting to observe it.
JR [00:40:03] And I think that that's what a lot of normative research has done for so long. And I'm deeply concerned by it. And it's not just that I am politically concerned, because to be clear, I am, I mean, I've already pointed out how I think there are political stakes to this in terms of a range of issues. But I think it's intellectually concerning, too, because there's a way that a sleight of hand takes place where the documentation of reality becomes the creation and reproduction of that or contributes to the creation and production of that very reality. And that's the worst, I think, of what social science could do and, frankly, has done for some time and I want to think very carefully about this.
BB [00:40:45] You're touching on how this is important to our intellectual labor as well as the world more broadly and I also think what you're talking about is part of a bigger, more far reaching project of decolonizing, decolonizing our thought, decolonizing anthropology. You mentioned Yarimar Bonilla a moment ago, and I'm thinking about your article from 2017, "Deprovincializing Trump, Decolonizing Diversity, and Unsettling Anthropology," where you talk about, well you challenge anthropologists to think about how our discipline is complicit in the rise of Trump or the rise of white supremacy, as if it ever went anywhere, and how some of the categories we think with, regarding race and diversity, actually reproduce colonial forms of power within our discipline and within the worlds that we interact with through our work. So when you wrote this article, it was right after Trump's election or inauguration and he has done some things since then. I'm thinking particularly of his response to Hurricane Maria and just the ongoing rhetoric about Puerto Ricans being ungrateful or having a corrupt government and almost blaming them, not almost, really just sort of blaming Puerto Ricans for the condition that they're in. So I'm wondering how we respond to that as anthropologists and how we can take steps to decolonize our approaches to these problems.
JR [00:42:17] Sure, so there's on one level a longstanding set of discussions around the colonial history of the discipline of anthropology and the need to decolonize the discipline, so whether talking about Faye Harrison's long standing project of decolonizing anthropology or more recent articulations of that, so Jafari Allen and Ryan Jobson wrote a recent piece in Current Anthropology, sort of documenting a decolonial approach to the field that is now multiple decades in the making, if not more. And so, this is not for me, a you know, this is not Jonathan and Yarimar created this, no, so sort of building, entering into conversation, entering into an already existing conversation. Although part of the concern after the 2016 election or the election of Trump, is the way that I think, for anthropologists and for lots of folks who inhabit sort of mainstream liberal perspectives or identify with mainstream liberal perspectives, Trump was viewed as a profound aberration, whereas from many other perspectives, Trump is another in a long line of figures. Now, there might be some idiosyncrasies there that are really important to attend to. Absolutely. But there are ways that the fundamental corruption of the United States was experienced as this, you know, unthinkable. The way that Trump's election was a sign of the instability and corruption of the United States in an almost unthinkable way was very funny from various perspectives from which the United States was never not corrupt and perspectives from which the United States was never not a scandal.
JR [00:43:59] So the idea of justice in the United States, the idea of laws in the United States, from some perspectives, are a scandal. I mean, that idea is a scandal because of the foundational forms of violence that are not just endemic to the United States, but inherent to the United States. So that built within every one of our, I mean, one of the things we write about in the article is how we're calling for a shoring up of the integrity of the nation's mainstream, of the nation's fundamental institutions. And we sort of ask, "Wait, which of these institutions has ever had integrity?" You want to talk about criminal justice, electoral politics, education, health? I mean, which of these institutions has never not been deeply, deeply tied to the reproduction of a highly stratified society in which some people have no legitimate position whatsoever? So, disposability is the name, has been the name of the game in a range of ways and we would want to attend to how that articulates in specific times and places within the United States and elsewhere. The point here isn't to say that we don't need to carefully figure out how that plays out, but rather to say this was not new. 2016 was not brand new. And the ability to experience it as new, that is the finding that needs to be interrogated. Rather than the election, it's the response to the election, which is the point that we make.
JR [00:45:19] So part of what I've been up to and invested in to this point and what I look forward to working on in the future is collaborating with colleagues who are interested in rethinking these disciplinary boundaries, rethinking both what is unique to anthropology, but not unique to anthropology at all. What opportunities exist for building, not just with other disciplines, but with communities outside of the academy, to say that, look, not only are these spaces, as I've mentioned multiple times in our conversation already, these aren't just spaces where people are creative or resilient in everyday life. These are spaces where people are developing analyses and developing theories that we need to take seriously. Part of my major concern with the way that the decolonizing turn within anthropology has been taken up, is that it often gets reduced to a superficial diversity politics and a set of concerns about the demographics of the discipline, which on one level you would want to say absolutely, we should pay attention to how race, gender and a whole range of dynamics are playing out in terms of who can become an anthropologist or who studies anthropology or what communities anthropology focuses on. So I think those questions are very important, particularly these questions of the demographics of the discipline, but that's just one piece, one small piece of what we would want to take into account from any kind of decolonial or decolonizing perspective on anthropology, the academy and the world. So the broader range of questions for me are, on one level, What does this mean? What does a decolonizing approach mean epistemologically, methodologically? What does it mean in terms of our responsibilities to the communities where we're working or what are our political responsibilities?
JR [00:47:15] So I don't think that the full kind of intellectual implications of a decolonizing approach have been taken into account, and some of those epistemological or intellectual implications, for me, are tied to the points that I was making a few minutes ago about observation. I think it's not just that colonialism has shaped who can be where right now, or who is privileged, more or less privileged, which is what the conversation has been reduced to. I think the role of coloniality in producing the modern world, all its infrastructure, its atmospherics, its socialities broadly, I think those dimensions of coloniality have not been understood, which leads us then to a situation where the ways that we make sense of what's possible, the ways that we orient a range of perceived societal problems, I think is profoundly limited and from a broad decolonial approach, part of what we would have to be asking ourselves is, "What are the communities that have never had space where there has never been a legitimate position available? And how have those communities created lifeways and orientations, questions of sustainability and viability in relationality? How have various populations never not been struggling with the ways that modernity does not make space or modernity forecloses certain possibilities?
JR [00:48:53] And so what I worry about with anthropology and again, the academy in general, is that we are a product. We are very deeply a product of the very problems that we purport to be observing, without taking into account the extent to which those problems have limited or prevented us from understanding what we're not so good at doing or what we shouldn't be doing in terms of our work. And so the kinds of questions that get taken up in our work, the kinds of interventions that get proposed, I think are a reflection of these limitations.
BB [00:49:30] In addition to being at the Department of Anthropology, you're an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Education and as you talked about earlier, you've always had a passion for education since even before high school, right? I mean, that this was your, would you call it your calling? I don't know if that the right word to use.
JR [00:49:48] I think so. I mean, you know, one hesitates to draw on certain phrases, although I don't have any issue with that. I think that I experience school as a site of possibility in lots of ways, although as a deeply problematic site of possibility. And so, I've been curious about all of the possibilities and limitations within schools.
BB [00:50:14] Because I'm curious about, when we talk about decolonizing or unsettling anthropology and when we talk about the coloniality that is infused in the structures of society, but academia in particular, I'm curious and I'm asking as a grad student, someone with a possible future in academia, in terms of education, in terms of the way we practice anthropology and teach anthropology, what are maybe some concrete steps or things that we can be aware of here?
JR [00:50:47] Yeah, so the dynamic that I described a minute ago, where often within the academy, the received wisdom is that our unique calling in life is to solve the world's problems, to help to fix the world, so we understand ourselves to be uniquely equipped to observe, assess and fix various sorts of problems within the world. In a place like Stanford where I am right now, this sort of design thinking, I think is oriented or informs so much of the work that people are doing across campus, which on one level I think it's exciting that people want to come together to make sense of challenges that people are facing in different parts of the world and to respond to those challenges. Now, the problem, the coloniality of that problem or the limitations of the academy and the broader sorts of educational implications of all of this. I mean, my concern is that people don't even know how to make sense of the problem that they're observing or the relationship between the institution that they inhabit and the emergence of that problem, much less how to so-called fix a problem. So, you know, I joke with people all the time that at a place like Stanford, my research is on inequality and inequity on one level where someone could say, "Oh, Jonathan, you look at structural inequity." Yes, sure, that's something that you could say that that's a part of what I do. To even utter the words inequality in a place like Stanford, I mean, you have to sit with that. That becomes a parody. It feels like a Saturday Night Live sketch, often, when we're in a seminar room talking about inequality at Stanford University, which is a university that is designed to consolidate and reproduce inequality.
JR [00:52:26] Now, I'm sure the sort of public facing, I mean, look, it's an elite institution. The idea is, you know, you're not letting everyone in, the doors aren't thrown open and Stanford is supposed to be a stratifying institution. We could we could paint it however we want and the idea is, Okay, but the public good that we do, the broader public good that we do, outweighs the exclusionary tactics that we draw on in order to do that good, so. Well, that's a conversation that we would want to have. What I find so often is that, in various spaces, and this isn't particular to Stanford, this is about the American academy more broadly, again, the ways that problems are defined for me, it's quite narrow. And in a School of Education, what that looks like is trying to design behavioral interventions to get kids to function, or to help teachers to function, or to help administrators to function better within an existing world. And so the idea is that, you know, there's no fundamental problem with the way that a discipline has been defined, the goal is just to get people to achieve better within that discipline. There's no fundamental problem with a standardized assessment or a mass sort of commodified standardized assessment, the problem is just getting people to achieve higher or score higher on that assessment. There's no problem with fundamentally how we define teacher education, there's just a problem with whether teachers are helping their kids to score higher on these assessments. There's no problem with the ways that schools have been oriented in relation to the communities that they're serving, there's just a problem with how administrators are able to organize their given school community. This kind of thing.
JR [00:54:12] Well, from my perspective within education, honestly, an aspiration of mine in the future would be to go discipline by discipline. We could talk about anthropology, the audacity, the audacity of anthropologists to come up with a concept like the Anthropocene or to enshrine in a disciplinary way a concept like the Anthropocene, which indicts humanity writ large for what modern Western and Northern Western nation states, what modern racial capitalism has wrought on the world is outrageous, it's stunning. It's a classic enactment of anthropological, of white, sort of Western anthropological hubris. We could do this within linguistics. We could do this within sociology, we could do econ. Econ? forget about it. I mean, so, so many of these fields, my sense is that they lack a sense of what feminist of color theorists have framed as epistemic humility. This question of, "What is it that you are in, in fact, ill equipped to understand? And how is it that by assuming that you're ill equipped to understand certain kinds of things, that you recognize that you need to humble yourself in the face of other forms of knowledge that perhaps don't even exist within your institutional or cultural milieu and in fact, are much better positioned to respond to certain sorts of situations?"
JR [00:55:38] So, you know, the academy for me, ironically, has been constructed as a site where knowledge is created and constructed as the unique space in which we create knowledge. I find that it's often, though, the last place where knowledge is being created. Knowledge is given order. It's organized. It's regimented. It's policed. It's bounded. It's reproduced within universities, but created? I think knowledge is being created everywhere in ways that we haven't understood or recognized in the past and that by privileging the academy or presuming that knowledge exists solely within the academy, we limit ourselves in terms of all of these opportunities for learning and transformation that I think exist everywhere.
BB [00:56:21] This just reminds me of some things you said throughout this conversation about a lot of the insights, a lot of the theory, behind raciolinguistic ideologies is coming out of the field, coming out of your interlocutors, their experiences. You also kind of preface your book, it's almost a word of caution, I think. But you're not trying to romanticize or idealize your students and your interlocutors as dealing with struggle and dealing with oppression in some sort of romantic way that needs to be held up as an ideal. But, you know, at the same time, they are theory building, they're working in ways that's unique. So that's that's an important thing, because so many of us, not just anthropologists, but, you know, people who who want to help the world in some way, we approach are our work as if we are going to do some good. You know, I think it's Walter Mignolo, who talks about the sort of salvific nature of coloniality: that we can help, we can turn to the oppressed world into something better. And I think what you're saying is a really important lesson about getting out of that mentality, of trying to take a model that we think works for us somehow and revive some poor communities.
JR [00:57:48] Yes, as one of my mentors, Ana Celia Zentella, always puts it: "the helping hand strikes again." Which is to say, that's often what purports to be the philanthropic sort of helper is precisely central to the reproduction of the problem. Now, what I wouldn't want people to do with my book is to engage with it and then to say, OK, I felt like I was living in Chicago. I felt like I was living in this neighborhood and now I can tell you all about this neighborhood in Chicago and, you know, this book gave me a window into it. And my thing is, OK, no, not so much. The things that I was observing in that book, that happened during the years when I was there and people might not even engage in some of these practices anymore. That was a very situated, a very contextual sort of encounter. And so the book isn't intended to be that. I think part of the problem with anthropology is often that ethnographically, what we're expected to do is provide a portrait of a society, or a community, or population, this kind of thing. That was not the goal of my book. I actually want readers to have to grapple with their assumptions about various contexts and populations so that the take away from the book is not, "Oh, this is what's going on in Chicago," in any sort of base reading of the book, but rather to say these are the ways that particular kinds of phenomena have been systematically misinterpreted and have been systematically sort of aperceived or misperceived, or misconstrued and here are some possible ways of anticipating that and thinking otherwise.
JR [00:59:25] So, you know, as anthropologists, I think it's our responsibility to do that anticipatory work in order to create or invite people into an alternative kind of semiotics or alternative modes of meaning making. And for me, it speaks to Yarimar Bonilla's newer work in Puerto Rico and the post-hurricane moment she's writing about what she calls hopeful pessimism, which is not about Afro-pessimism in a straightforward way, but rather is—you know, Afro-pessimism I think has laid down a number of gauntlets that are productive, even if I worry about some of the sort of universalizing claims that are made within that framework. But Yarimar's concept of hopeful pessimism, I think, on one level speaks to the unique kind of circumstances within Puerto Rico where people no longer have an investment in the state and many, many people are just sort of, at this point, are not expecting the state to function in any way that comprehensively supports their well-being and yet are working together to create alternative ways of making sense of their circumstances and alternative ideas about how to respond to them. You know, I think that that sort of hopeful pessimism is not just about what's happening in Puerto Rico, that there are ways to think about hopeful pessimism academically and intellectually. And a lot of these institutions that, if we recognize that the academy has been a problem historically and has consolidated power historically, if we realize that policing has been a problem, has been a central problem, and incarceration has been a problem, even if it purports to rehabilitate people in particular ways, and that very rarely functions in anything remotely looking like rehabilitation. If we understand that schools are, the idea that schools creating stratified results is a problem, but no, schools are doing what they were designed to do. These institutions are functioning quite well. It's what they were supposed to do. So once you recognize that, there's a certain kind of pessimism that I think is associated with recognizing the inherent sort of design of particular kinds of institutions. So what you do in response to that and what the possibilities that you imagine and enact in response to that. That to me is what hopeful pessimism is about and sort of saying it's not possible in this world. But that doesn't mean that other worlds don't exist.
BB [01:02:00] Last thing here. I mentioned Twitter earlier, I follow you on there and a lot of other scholars and students are following your work. I think you you've refined the art of the concise but poignant tweet, you know. So #AnthroTwitter, if you will, it's a big thing. And especially for junior scholars, it's a way that we've been able to come together and, you know, air our grievances about academia or some of the larger structures that are getting us down right now, the state of our disciplines. So I'm curious about your thoughts on Twitter as a tool for unsettling anthropology, but also its potential as one of these spaces beyond the academy. You mentioned a moment ago that the academy is really often the last place where theory and where ideas and where learning is taking place. So what are your thoughts on Twitter as a learning space?
JR [01:02:54] Sure. So I think actually the frame of hopeful pessimism is relevant in relation to Twitter as well. On one level, we want to look at one of the things that Yarimar and I write about in our Ferguson piece, our #Ferguson piece is how, throughout history, various sorts of technological emerging technologies have played a role in various social movements. So the emergence of newspapers, of the radio, of television, of digital communication and this kind of thing, we could look at how various social movements have adapted and appropriated technologies that are, who are also serving various sorts of projects on capitalist accumulation, but have appropriated these sorts of modalities to refashion them as strategic sites where you could use them to communicate in ways that otherwise might not be possible, or might be deeply constrained. And so I think that that's exciting to see what's possible there politically while also recognizing who Twitter . . . I mean, I live in the San Francisco Bay area. Right. And so I know where Twitter emerged and I can look around the region to see the ways that the emergence of these industries, to see the life ways that are cultivated and cut off by the emergence and the institutionalization of these industries. So I know that Twitter is not, I don't just simply want to romanticize Twitter, I guess. Part of it is, you have to think about the institutional conditions of possibility. So that's a part of the story. Now, the exciting thing to see happening in AnthroTwitter and other sorts of versions of various sorts of iterations of Twitter are how people are creating new forms of community, how people are are building together and circulating ideas and strategies and approaches and analyses in ways that didn't feel as possible.
JR [1:04:50] You know, when I look back to what my first year experience in grad school was, I was constantly . . . All I had were the people to whom I had most direct access, where my fellow cohort members and then students in other programs across the university. But I was having this experience where I was constantly questioning myself, is there something wrong with me? This curriculum is profoundly disconnected from the contemporary challenges that I think that we're facing. The theoretical approaches are profoundly limited. And it's one thing to learn a discipline's canon, I have no problem with that. It's another thing for learning to stop there. And in many cases, the sort of foundational courses stop at the canon and there's no sense of these alternative knowledges or approaches that are really important. And so I thought something was wrong with me. It's exciting to see students, graduate students, especially junior scholars and others who are are collectively thinking together to say "no!" I know that the students at Harvard created an alternative syllabus for their sequence of courses or their introductory courses in the doctoral program in anthropology, for example, and have circulated that using social media and other spaces. And so to see the syllabus projects that have emerged.
BB [01:06:04] They're great!
JR [01:06:05] I think they're absolutely fantastic, because we know that other knowledges exist, and subaltern knowledges, whether you're talking about feminist projects, or gender and sexuality studies, or various sorts of comparative race and ethnic studies, black studies, indigenous studies. There are literatures that speak to these issues powerfully that often just haven't been acknowledged or even recognized at all within mainstream disciplines. And so I'm excited about how Twitter can be a space for rethinking what the academy could be and rethinking, you know, sort of redistributing knowledge. Now, there is a way in which—you know, I always have my favorite Toni Morrison quotation I had almost at all times where she says "The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work, it keeps you proving over and over your reason for being." And it goes on. But when she says the function, the very serious function of racism is distraction, I do worry as I'm observing Twitter, you know, at this point as a very active participant. And I observe the superficial nature of some of the conversations that take place there and some of the infighting that takes place there.
JR [1:07:17] And look, I think that there's a division of labor around social movements. And I think that there's a time and a place to sort of be grappling with the sorts of hierarchies that are internal to any movement. There are ways that some of these Twitter conversations feel like the public splaying of an in-group sort of debate in ways that broader out-group perspectives might not be sensitive to. So what that looks like is situations where populations that otherwise might be able to build solidarity with one another are positioned in an adversarial way. And social media becomes a space for airing out those sorts of conflicts that I think can be unproductive. So I'm excited about the possibilities for rethinking what knowledge and politics could be and how this is a space for thinking about all of that. I'm wary of the sort of political and economic conditions in which that platform emerged and to which it is beholden. Hopeful pessimism, Yarimar, it's gold! So I'm excited to sort of think, to continue to observe and participate in these sorts of projects of building in the space like Twitter, while never presuming that Twitter is the answer.
BB [01:08:41] Well, Professor Jonathan Rosa, thank you so much for talking with me today and for joining. AnthroPod for this conversation. And I look forward to whatever comes next.
JR [01:08:51] Likewise. Thank you so much.
BB [01:08:56] You’ve been listening to AnthroPod, the podcast of the Society for Cultural Anthropology. Once again, my name is Ben Bean, and I hosted and produced this episode. Many thanks are due to the AnthroPod team, especially Raphaëlle Rabanes and Josh Rivers, executive producers of this episode, who provided very helpful editing and transcription support. Last but not least, much gratitude goes out to Professor Jonathan Rosa for taking the time to record this interview.
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