Northwestern Events Calendar


Linguistics Colloquium Series: Jessi Grieser - What We Talk About When We Talk About Gentrification

When: Friday, January 28, 2022
3:30 PM - 6:00 PM Central

Where: Online

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Talant Abdykairov   (847) 467-3384

Group: Linguistics Department

Category: Academic


In this talk, I'll discuss the Big-D discourses of gentrification and the ways they serve as a form of abstract liberalism to obscure the racialized nature of change. Drawing on ten years of sociolinguistic interview data from the neighborhood of Anacostia, in Washington, D.C.,  I'll demonstrate how the ways Anacostians talk about their space counters those Big-D discourses at the discourse level, at the narrative level, and at the morphosyntactic level in ways which serve to re-racialize the process of gentrification and strip the agency of outsiders to determine what constitutes "good change." I then back out to look at the bigger questions of the ways gentrification is considered an a-racialized process and how the residents' talk brings race to the forefront, rejecting the colorblind racism assumptions inherent in the abstract liberalism appeal. 


Jessi Grieser is an associate professor of English Linguistics in the Department of English at the University of Tennessee. She researches discourse approaches to the linkages between language and race and place identities, African American Language, and language and gentrification, with a side of discourse analysis of online speech, especially in fan communities. Her book The Black Side of the River: Race, Language and Belonging in Washington, D.C. was released by Georgetown University Press in 2022. 

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