Karen  Villegas

Languaging “to be” Neoliberal: Understanding the Ideological Practices of the Naturalization Process

The hostile challenges facing immigration in the U.S today needs to be understood as an extension of a much more complex racialized relationship dating back to the formation of the U.S. state through settler colonialism, racial capitalism, and neoliberalism in this historical specific moment, all of which work together to define institutionalized forms of belonging. The material effects of settler colonialism weave together economic and language ideologies to train immigrants to be literate in neoliberal citizenship. The role of language and literacy is mutually constitutive of the nation building process: language comes to be ideologized and therefore embedded within national identity. The construction of the neoliberal citizen is often mediated through English as a Second Language (ESL) Naturalization courses. Through participant observation of an adult, ESL Naturalization course and subsequent interviews with its students and their extended families, this project explores how colonial language ideologies are indexed within the Naturalization process and matriculate into the creation of the neoliberal citizen.