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UC Berkeley


Language, Culture, and Identity

Field Description

In the ISF Research Field on Language, Culture and Identity, students make language itself an object of analysis through an interdisciplinary course of study combining the Social Sciences and Humanities. Courses can be found in Anthropology, Education, Ethnic Studies, Linguistics, Philosophy, Rhetoric, and Sociology.  The interdisciplinary study of language treats language as more than a tool of communication. Languages as patterned discourses are cultural products that change over time and that are conditioned (and confounded) by power and difference. In this research field, students study a variety of discourses from different historical moments and sociological contexts to ask a series of questions about language and identity. In this way, students explore the metaphoric nature of language while learning about cognitive processes, the nature of meaning, the controversy over linguistic relativity, the politics of language use, the dynamics of politeness and civility norms, and the tensions between language as a tool for authority, as an expression of resistance, and an ideal communicative practice.

Library Resources is forthcoming; meanwhile, please contact research librarian Jennifer Dorner at

Recent ISF Senior Theses

  • We Are the Group: A Multiculturalist and Anti-Essentialist Approach to Women’s Roles in Conservative Religious Movements
  • Ethnicity and Progress: What Role Does Group Identity Play in the Development of New Towns. Jakarta, Indonesia, 1990-2010
  • Us Vs. Them: Nationalism, Exclusion, and Subversion in Northeast India
  • Performing the (Virtual) Self: Challenges in Identity Presentation Through Social Networks
  • Social Control through Persuasion Influence and Propaganda – A transnational investigation: What are the underlying issues when addressing health and healthcare?
  • Narcocorridos and Feminism? The Role of Women in Songs About Drug Trafficking
  • We Are One of You: The Rise of the Muslim Citizen in Europe
  • What’s In a Name? Naming as Identity Construction
  • Women’s Narratives, Violent Legacies, and the Role of the Feminine in Post-Colonial Caribbean Discourses About Family
  • Color, Time, and Space: Does Language Affect Perception?

Relevant UC Berkeley Courses

  • UGIS 120: Introduction to Applied Language Studies
  • Anthropology 166: Language, Culture, and Society
  • Anthropology 169C: Methods in Linguistic Anthropology
  • Cognitive Science C142: Language and Thought
  • Education 188F: Language, Race, and Power in Education
  • English 161: Introduction to Literary Theory
  • English 171: Literature and Sexual Identity
  • Linguistics C105: The Mind and Language
  • Linguistics 151: Language and Gender
  • Linguistics 155AC: Language in the United States: A Capsule History
  • Linguistics 170: History, Structure, and Sociolinguistics of a Particular Language
  • Philosophy 133: Philosophy of Language
  • Philosophy 135: Theory of Meaning
  • Psychology 164: Social Cognition
  • Rhetoric 117: Language, Truth and Dialogue
  • Rhetoric 184: Language and Movement
  • Sociology 160: Sociology of Culture
  • Political Science 106A: American Politics: Campaign Strategy

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