My research specializations in Sociocultural Linguistics and Bilingualism position language as a lens through which to examine social phenomena, such as physical description and social attitudes in Latin America, and the special abilities of bilingual youth in the United States.

My primary research contributes to an interdisciplinary conversation on race in Latin America by positioning language—a crucial yet underutilized tool for the critical analysis of race—as a lens for examining race and skin color classification in the Dominican Republic. Funded by the University of California Center for New Racial Studies, the project offers an innovative mixed methodology for studying race. Through analysis of archival documents, corpus data, photo description surveys, and ethnographic interviews in the Dominican Republic, the project investigates the conceptual evolution of race since the colonial period, engages popular understanding of what racial terms mean, and explores the relationship between race and dominicanidad (‘Dominican-ness’).

El negrito

A popular hot breakfast cereal brand in the Dominican Republic: Harina El Negrito – An example of the richness of the everyday research environment

In addition to my primary line of research, I am working on a long-term research project that focuses on bilingual youth in the U.S., and one branch of the project explores how Spanish-English bilingual interpreters in religious settings demonstrate problem-solving skills and linguistic expertise. My article discussing this project was recently accepted for publication in Sociolinguistic Studies.

I am also in the pilot phase of a long-term research project on the semantics of beauty in Latin America and the U.S. Using a framework derived from my language-based approach to studying race, the project proposes to critically analyze contemporary definitions of, and discourses on, beauty. The project uses language as a lens to specifically engage the socialization of beauty, the intersection of race and beauty, and beauty and resistance. The pilot phase of the project includes surveys and interviews collected in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Cuba, New Mexico, and Equatorial Guinea.

Current Projects

  • Semantic analysis of raza and matiz racial (‘racial shade/nuance’) lexicon in the Dominican Republic
  • Language and beauty
  • Bilingual youth interpreters in religious settings
  • Translating Malcolm X
  • Language, race, and identity at Historically Black Universities

Past Projects

  • Language policy in Dual Immersion classrooms
  • Constructing nation, identity and history through oral narrative in the Dominican Republic
  • School Kids Investigating Language in Life and Society high school academic outreach project
  • Basque language acquisition
  • Clitic alternations in Psych Verbs

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