LingLang Lunch (4/4/2019): Jessi Grieser (the University of Tennessee Knoxville)

Jessi Grieser is a sociolinguist who specializes in discourse analysis, geosemiotics, and sociophonetics. Currently, her research agenda focuses on the use of African American English (AAE) in expressions of the intersectional identities of race, place, and social class. For more information, her website is here.


Talking Place, Speaking Race

Across the United States, urban residents of all races and all socioeconomic classes are facing changing urban landscapes. In light of this change, what it means to be from a place is being newly conceptualized, for incomers and long-time residents alike. In this talk, I take a discourse analytic and variationist approach to the study of a rapidly-gentrifying neighborhood in Washington, D.C., it argues that the linguistic expression of class and place identity is not an add-on to the enactment of these identities, but is in fact the primary site wherein these identities are negotiated. Incorporating 34 sociolinguistic interviews with residents aged 18-85, analysis of community spaces, and ethnographic analysis, I show that in a situation where a once-stable place identity is being uprooted by socioeconomic change, the linguistic expression of race enables new and old residents to confirm and express identities of class and belonging that tie them to each other and to their community.