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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Emiliana Cruz

Subject Categories

Anthropological Linguistics and Sociolinguistics | Anthropology | Discourse and Text Linguistics | Language Description and Documentation | Linguistic Anthropology | Race and Ethnicity


This research focuses on language use as a means of linguistic, cultural, and communal negotiations with political economic forces of assimilation and systematic racial discrimination. I specifically analyze how the use of Nahuatl and Spanish within a Nahua community in Mexico, San Isidro Atlapexco Hidalgo, signifies ideological and power relationships. I pay particular attention to the dynamics of interaction and communicative practices within assemblies—a key form of local governance. Here, I show that the collective force displayed in such spaces might be the engine to transgress, oppose, and challenge the highly racialized language ideology of the state that advocates Spanish as the language of modernization. This research explores the linguistic strategies, semiotic resources, and discourse practices associated with specific roles in the communal government system and how these resources are distributed along the lines of gender, age, and class statuses as well as ethnic and racial identities. To do so, I identify different linguistic registers/styles, each of which is linked to social evaluations of individuals and their practices (i.e., linguistic ideologies). I explore how these actors’ linguistic ideologies and practices contribute to hindering the wider use of the Nahuatl language. I provide a detailed analysis of the linguistic dynamics through which raciolinguistic ideologies (Rosa & Flores 2017) are expressed and negotiated in everyday practices of local life. In this way, this research uses the tool of linguistic ethnography to explore the intersections of race, indigeneity, class, gender, age, and linguistic phenomena. It is one of the goals to show that language ideologies and practices are key sites for the organization and reproduction of race and racism. As my approach is ethnographic and linguistic, through the ethnographic materials I obtained through participant observation, interviews and fieldnotes, I identify the historical and contemporary broader context of this Nahua society, highlighting the political organization and the structure of the local and communal government and the linguistic ideologies that permeate the use of language in political arenas. The collected data from texts-discourses of video recordings of assemblies gave me the possibility to analyze linguistic, pragmatic, and discursive elements in the Nahuatl language.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.