Open Reader Position for fall 2022 – ISF 100C: Language and Identity

Open Reader Position for ISF 100C_Fall 2022

This course examines the role of language in the construction of social identities, and how language is tied to various forms of symbolic power at the regional, national, and international levels. As the saying goes, “A language is a dialect with an army and navy” – but how so? Questions about language have been central to national culture and identity, and the languages we speak often prove, upon close examination, not to be the tongues of ancestors but invented traditions of political significance. People have also encoded resistance into non-official and ambiguous languages even as the state has attempted to devalue them as inferior forms of expression. Drawing on case studies from Asia, Europe, Canada, and the U.S., we will pay special attention to topics such as the legitimization of a national language, the political use of language in nation-building processes, the endangerment of indigenous languages, and processes of linguistic subordination and domination.  This course will be interdisciplinary in its attempt to understand language in terms of history, politics, anthropology and sociology. We will not only study how language has been envisioned in planning documents and official language policy, but also analyze how speakers enact, project, and contest their culturally specific subject positions according to their embodied linguistic capital.

We require a reader for this course, preferably someone who is familiar with sociolinguistics or linguistic anthropology, or sociology of language. The reader will be expected to attend lectures, grade weekly reading responses, one empirical research based paper (500-1000 words), and a final paper (1500 words). The class capacity is 58. Graduate students from sociology, anthropology, public policy, political science, history, linguistics or related fields are welcome to apply.

If interested, please send an email to with your CV. In the application, please be sure to describe your teaching experiences, especially here at Berkeley.

Course: ISF 100C

Course Title: Language and Identity

Day & Time: MWF 1-2pm

Location: 247 Cory

Instructor: Fang Xu

Units: 4