Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Latin American, Iberian and Latino Cultures


Jose del Valle

Committee Members

Luisa Martin Rojo

Miki Makihara

Ariana Mangual Figueroa

Subject Categories

Anthropological Linguistics and Sociolinguistics | Linguistic Anthropology


Voice, Glottopolitics, Ethnography, Community Activism, Political Subject, Latinos


The relevance of the strategic use of language and communication in the consolidation and action of a political subject has not yet been sufficiently analyzed. Drawing on a glottopolitical perspective, this research project aims to incorporate the object of study of the political dimension of voice and point out the importance of mastering linguistic and discursive practices in community activism. Based on the case of the Latino community of Los Sures in Brooklyn, NY, in this dissertation I embark on a journey through the communicative practices through which a group of people begins to conceive of itself as a community, to consolidate itself as a political subject and to act politically using their voice. To do so, I conducted an ethnography in two neighborhood organizations for two years using participant observation as the main tool. To address the communicative field in connection to relational, political, and spatial aspects, this work introduces an integrative theoretical-methodological approach that incorporates different perspectives, theoretical traditions and methodological tools from linguistic anthropology, critical sociolinguistics, glottopolitics, and the analysis of the social production of space. With this approach, I identify several main linguistic processes through which the community manages to organize itself and act politically: the transformation of the sociolinguistic order, the communicative practices destined to build community, the creation of a collective discursive repertoire for political action, strategies to take the floor in institutional spaces, the performative use of the voice and the integration of Spanish as part of the political project. This analysis concludes that the success of the Latino community of Los Sures, who remain in their neighborhood and develop their daily lives despite progressive gentrification and inequality, lies in having understood the political relevance of language and in knowing how to use language consciously, explicitly, and strategically. Finally, this dissertation also responds to the commitment to confront the idea that undocumented and racialized Latinos have no voice, showing how and when they speak up to transform their social circumstances.