Introduction: Language and White Supremacy

Krystal A. Smalls, Arthur K. Spears, Jonathan Rosa

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review


The introduction to this special issue frames White supremacy as a central concern within linguistic anthropology, both as a focus of analysis and as a power structure that has profoundly shaped the field’s logics and demographics. We emphasize how carefully attending to language, discourse, and signs can productively illuminate White supremacy’s slippery logics, organizing principles, dynamic infrastructures, and diverse practices. Centering the role of White supremacy in constituting modern sign relations can contribute significantly to linguistic anthropologists’ efforts toward understanding historical and contemporary power structures that organize the dynamic yet systematic interplay between language and context. We hope that this special issue builds constructively on longstanding and more recent linguistic anthropological work that has led us to reconsider the fundamental relationship between language, race, and culture while also pushing our field in important new directions by reconsidering the fundamental relationship between language and racism as a strategy for understanding and contributing to efforts toward combating White supremacy.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-156
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Linguistic Anthropology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • anti-Blackness
  • White supremacy
  • racism
  • language


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