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December 2017
The University of Arizona Press

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Hegemonies of Language and Their Discontents

The Southwest North American Region Since 1540
Carlos Velez-Ibanez

Spanish and English have fought a centuries-long battle for linguistic dominance in the southwest North American region. Covering the time period of 1540 to the present, "Hegemonies of Language and Their Discontents" provides a deep and broad understanding of the contradictory methods of establishing language supremacy in this U.S.-Mexico transborder region and the manner in which those affected have responded and acted, often in dissatisfaction and at times with inventive adaptations.

Vélez-Ibáñez gives particular attention to both sides of the border, explaining the consequences of the fragile splitting of the area through geopolitical border formation. He illustrates the many ways those discontents have manifested in linguistic, cultural, educational, political and legal forms.

From revolt to revitalization, from silent objection to expressive defiance, people in the southwest North American region have developed arcs of discontent from the Spanish colonial period to the present. These narratives are supported by multiple sources, including original Spanish colonial documents and new and original ethnographic studies of performance rituals like the matachines of New Mexico. This unique work discusses the most recent neurobiological studies of bilingualism and their implications for cognitive development and language as it spans multiple disciplines. Finally, it provides the most important models for dual language development and their integration to the "Funds of Knowledge" concept as creative contemporary discontents with monolingual approaches.


Carlos Velez-Ibanez is a Regents' Professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change and the founding director emeritus in the School of Transborder Studies. His academic fields include applied anthropology, culture and education, ethno-class relations in complex social systems, migration and adaptation of human populations, political ecology and qualitative methodology.

Praise for this book

“This book serves as a crash course in understanding language processes, dominance and megascripts in the borderlands regions of the United States and Mexico.”

Patricia Sánchez
co-editor of In Search of Hope and Home

“Vélez-Ibáñez’s vast knowledge of the region’s human geography and political economy comes through clearly in this impressive and far-reaching book. Weaving together narratives from different disciplines, archival research and the author’s family history, the book invites readers to consider language hegemony and resistance over time.”

Patrick H. Smith
co-author of Mapping Applied Linguistics