Language and Racialization

Authored by: Elaine W. Chun , Adrienne Lo

The Routledge Handbook of Linguistic Anthropology

Print publication date:  September  2015
Online publication date:  August  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415834100
eBook ISBN: 9780203492741
Adobe ISBN: 9781135050900


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It may be commonly heard in social science discourses that race is a social construct. This pithy assertion does not mean that race is merely an illusion but that racial categorization is an ideological process that defines the material conditions and embodied experiences of many (Omi and Winant 1994, Smedley 1998). Race remains a basic dimension of social differentiation in many cultures because racialization is a semiotic process that naturalizes social difference: signs that point to race, such as skin color, hair texture, and voice quality, are thought of as self-evident visible, tangible, or audible cues that differentiate human types on a primordial, genetic basis.

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