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Looking like a Language, Sounding like a Race
examines the emergence of linguistic and ethnoracial categories in the context of Latinidad. The book draws from more than twenty-four months of ethnographic and sociolinguistic fieldwork in a Chicago public school, whose student body is more than
90% Mexican and Puerto Rican, to analyze the racialization of language and its relationship to issues of power and national identity. It focuses specifically on youth socialization to U.S. Latinidad as a contemporary site of political anxiety, raciolinguistic transformation, and urban inequity.
Jonathan Rosa's account studies the fashioning of Latinidad in Chicago's highly segregated Near Northwest Side; he links public discourse concerning the rising prominence of U.S. Latinidad to the institutional management and experience of raciolinguistic identities there. Anxieties surrounding
Latinx identities push administrators to transform at risk Mexican and Puerto Rican students into young Latino professionals. This institutional effort, which requires students to learn to be and, importantly, sound like
themselves in highly studied ways, reveals administrators' attempts to
navigate a precarious urban terrain in a city grappling with some of the nation's highest youth homicide, dropout, and teen pregnancy rates. Rosa explores the ingenuity of his research participants' responses to these forms of marginalization through the contestation of political, ethnoracial, and