Anna De Fina – Latin Americans in the U.S.: Processes of identity negotiation in transnational space


Event Date: 5 July 2013

Room B36
Birkbeck Main Building
Birkbeck, University of London
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HX

The International Association for the Study of Spanish in Society presents:

Professor Anna De Fina (Georgetown) – Latin Americans in the U.S.: Processes of identity negotiation in transnational space

In this paper I analyze the construction of identity within a transnational space: a Spanish Language Radio station broadcasting in the Washington-Baltimore area. The focus is on the kinds of strategies used bythe radio to create its own identity as a representative of the Latin American audience to which it caters, and on how this process also involves building a Latino identity for this virtual community. However, I also argue that identity construction in such transnational space involves the interests and voices of different agents: the corporation owning the radio, the businesses advertising their products and services, the radio hosts and the audiences. I show that transnationalism has an important role as a defining trait of the Latino identity being negotiated in the broadcasting. More in general, the analysis supports an approach to identities based on the ethnographic study of practices within communities rather than on presuppositions about the relations between social categories, spaces and languages.

Anna De Fina holds a Laurea in Lingue e Letterature Straniere from Palermo University, an M.A. in Linguistics from Esculea Nacional de Antropología e Historia in Mexico, a Master of Philosophy in Linguistics from Cambridge University (U.K.), and a Ph.D. in Linguistics from Georgetown University. Between 1981 and 1993, she worked as Professor of Applied Linguistics and Italian at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, where she chaired the Applied Linguistics Department between 1990 and 1993. In 1994, she moved to the United States where she taught at Georgetown University, University of Maryland, and Mary Washington College. In 2004 she joined the Georgetown Faculty where she is currently Professor of Italian Language and Linguistics in the Italian Department .
Her interests focus on Narrative, Discourse and Identity, Immigrant communities and Italian American Studies. Her most recent publication is the book Analyzing Narrative: Discourse and Sociolinguistic Perspectives, Cambridge University Press, co-authored with Alexandra Georgakopoulou. Previous publications include the book Identity in Narrative (2003, John Benjamins) the co-edited volumes Italiano e italiani fuori d’Italia (2003, Guerra), Dislocations, Relocations, Narratives of Displacement, with Mike Baynham (St. Jerome, 2005) and Discourse and Identity (2006, Cambridge University Press), with D. Schiffrin and M. Bamberg). She has published numerous articles in internationally recognized journals and chapters in edited collections on a variety of topics in Applied Linguistics, Sociolinguistics and Discourse Analysis, from the discourse construction of identities to code switching among Italian speakers abroad, from narratives in immigrant discourse to the use of pronouns in political discourse.

Introduction by Dr. David Atkinson (Limerick).



This talk was part of the “LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY IN THE SPANISH-SPEAKING WORLD” conference, held at Birkbeck Unoversity of London 3 – 5 July 2013

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