As a sociocultural linguist, I use language as a lens for the interdisciplinary analysis of complex social phenomena such as race, beauty, cultural otherness, and diasporic positionalities. Through my methodology-driven research, I seek to examine social phenomena in new ways and to give a voice in academic literature to underrepresented groups.

ONE: My primary research contributes to an interdisciplinary conversation on race in Latin America by positioning language as an analytical frame for examining racial 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, 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’). I have presented this research at international conferences and colloquia, and articles discussing my language-based approach to studying race have been published in journals such as The Black Scholar and Caribe, and in an edited volume titled Centros de irradiación y periferias de la lengua española. I am currently working on a book proposal based on this research, and my future plans for the project are to expand the framework to examine racial discourses, identities, and ideologies in other cultural settings.

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

TWO: The second strand of my research agenda analyzes the translation of racial(ized) language in film and literature produced by storytellers of the African diaspora. Initially funded by a Humanities Unbounded Visiting Faculty Fellowship, this project examines the strategies that translators employ to render racial labels and racialized linguistic practice from one sociocultural context to another. In the analysis, I consider the diverse ways that language indexes blackness and cultural otherness and trace the ways that these messages are transformed through the translation process.


THREE: The third strand of my research—funded by grants from the Dominican Studies Institute and the Division of Research and Faculty Development at Oakwood University—explores the negotiation of positionality within, and with respect to, the African diaspora. In this line of inquiry, I examine the designation, description, and disposition of intersectional Latinx identities under the African American gaze in film, literature, and institutions of higher learning.

Current Projects

  • Raza and matiz racial (‘racial shade/nuance’) terms in the Dominican Republic
  • How racial language from Afrodiasporic literature and film is rendered in translation
  • (Afro)Latinx Identity under the African American Gaze

Past Projects

  • Language and the construction of feminine beauty in Spanish-speaking settings (Dominican Republic, Mexico, Cuba, New Mexico, Equatorial Guinea)
  • Bilingual youth interpreters in religious settings
  • 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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