We're pleased to present this talk from Dr Jessi Grieser, an Assistant Professor in Sociolinguistics at the University of Tennessee. Dr Grieser specialises in discourse analysis, geosemiotics, and sociophonetics. Currently, her research agenda focuses on the use of African American English (AAE) in expressions of the intersectional identities of race, place, and social class. This talk is based off her research into the use of AAE in constructing place identity for residents of a historically African American neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
“I’ve never known a white person to live on Hill Street:”
Racializing Gentrification through Framing and Erasure
Gentrification, the “production of urban space for progressively more affluent users” (Hackworth 2001) is quite possibly the most well-studied phenomenon in urban studies. It has, however, been seriously under-theorized and under-explored by linguists, with its studies being limited mostly to studies of linguistic landscape. In this talk, I discuss a project in Anacostia, Washington, D.C., an historically-Black neighborhood which has undergone rapid change in the 2010s. I trace three frames of how Black residents of the neighborhood evaluate white presence in the neighborhood: neutrally, as a novelty, negatively, as a takeover, and positively, as diversity. I argue that these three frames have the effect of erasing the existence of Black newcomers, which in turn re-produces Big-D discourses which see gentrification as a purely racial, rather than economic issue. This in turn, allows the community members to position the neighborhood’s Black residents—old and new, lower income and affluent—as a single cohesive community staking a firm claim on Black urban space.