Emilia Alonso-Sameño takes an international look at Spanish-speaking communities in the Americas
With immigration politics abounding in the United States, Dr. Emilia Alonso-Sameño hosted a global seminar to talk about Spanish-speaking communities in the Americas from a global perspective.
Language, culture and identity are intertwined for Alonso-Sameño, professor of Spanish in the Department of Modern Language at the College of Arts and Sciences and director of the Institute for the Empirical Study of Language at Ohio University .
Building on the relationships she forged during her research leave in the spring of 2020, Alonso-Sameño collaborated with Dr. Murad Ahmad Khan, a colleague from the Department of Foreign Languages at Aligarh Muslim University in India. , on a proposed global initiative. of the Academic Networks Online Seminar. The Indian Ministry of Education funded its week-long seminar on “Examining Spanish-Speaking Communities in the United States and Abroad from an Interdisciplinary and Global Perspective,” which ran from June 20-28 .
Alonso-Sameño delivered the first lecture of the seminar, discussing solutions to the challenges posed by immigration to the United States.
“We have to be very careful how we think and talk about immigration. We must pay particular attention to this new culture of intolerance and prejudice that is invading our social networks. We can see this reflected in hate speech, which fundamentally dehumanizes undocumented immigrants, stigmatizes their families and justifies depriving them of basic human rights,” she said.
“This criminalization of immigration has devastating effects on many other aspects of human life. One of these aspects is the linguistic and cultural identity of people,” she continued. “We know that language is the intrinsic expression of our culture; it is an expression of who we are as individuals. Thus, forcing people to assimilate and integrate into the host culture could have a negative impact on their identity.
Alonso-Sameño, who believes that language learning has both cognitive and cultural benefits, proposed that bilingual education can be an uplifting solution.
“What happens when we abandon our languages and our cultures? Traditionally, this has been a common occurrence in the United States, where people are “forced” to integrate and their children are educated in English, and bilingualism is not promoted. The belief that bilingual programs are ineffective minimizes the linguistic, cultural and cognitive benefits in terms of flexibility for bilinguals,” said Alonso-Sameño.
In his talk, Alonso-Sameño touched on Spanish media, including the role of Jorge Ramos, as a prominent Latino and news anchor for Noticiero Univisión, who believes in amnesty for all undocumented immigrants in the United States. , to draw perspectives on today’s issues. with immigration, and contrasting the views and experiences of Richard Rodriguez who is a strong advocate of monolingual education in English.
Alonso-Sameño delivered a total of 12 lectures during the multi-day seminar, with additional lectures by speakers including Federico Salas Lotfe, Mexico’s ambassador to India.
The conferences provided a forum for students, faculty and secondary school teachers from various disciplines to come together and discuss key topics affecting migration movements, displacement and discrimination of marginalized communities around the world.
In one of his lectures—“Terms of Identity: Latino (Latina, Latinx) and Hispanic. What term do people identify with? – Alonso-Sameño has found space in the language for everyone to identify as they wish.
“I think if the labels are used for identification, they are not a problem. If the LGBTQ+ community in the United States, who identify as gender-nonbinary, decides to use a gender-neutral term, like Latinx or Latina, instead of Latino/a, that’s fantastic. If the label is an ‘official’ imposition or categorization, then I would question it,” she noted.
“In recent years, LGBTQ+ activists, feminists, linguists, and others around the world have championed the use of more inclusive language, both by creating entirely new non-binary terms and by reassembling words and expressions already existing”, Alonso-Sameño said. “However, there were many challenges. For some people, it can be difficult, scary, or tedious to keep having to explain why there should be more inclusive language. It can also be dangerous. For example, in our country alone, hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community have increased over the past six years. »