May 5

What We Talk About When We Talk About Gentrification

Fri, May 5, 2023 • 4:30pm - 5:30pm (1h) • Willis 204

Please join the Linguistics Department for a talk by Jessi Grieser on May 5, 2023 in Willis Hall 204 at 4:30pm.

Professor Grieser discusses 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 linguistics in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Michigan. She received her Ph.D. in Sociolinguistics from Georgetown University. Her research takes discourse analytic and variationist approaches to studying the linkages between language and race and place identities, African American Language, and language and gentrification, as well as language online. Her first book The Black Side of the River: Race, Language and Belonging in Washington, D.C. was released by Georgetown University Press in 2022, and her second monograph The Language of Professional Blackness will be published in early 2023 via the Publications of the American Dialect Society.

This talk is co-sponsored by Africana Studies and American Studies.

Event Contact: Lisa Falconer

Event Summary

What We Talk About When We Talk About Gentrification
  • Intended For: General Public, Students, Faculty, Staff, Alums, Prospective Students, Families
  • Categories: Lecture/Panel

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