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Elimination of “Linguistically Isolated” as Classification by the U.S. Census Bureau

AAA experts on Language and Social Justice from the Committee for Human Rights and the Society for Linguistic Anthropology have been working with the U.S. Census Bureau for several years to spur terminology change in the tabulation of household language data. As a result of our extensive communication with the U.S. Census Bureau, and with the support of the Census Advisory Committee on the Hispanic Population, the U.S. Census Bureau agreed to eliminate the phrase “linguistic isolation” from its products issued starting in 2011. In a recent letter, the Bureau writes, “We have changed the terminology to one that we feel is more descriptive and less stigmatizing. The phrase that will appear in all new products will be Households in which no one 14 and over speaks English only or speaks a language other than English at home and speaks English ‘very well.’

For the complete story, click here.

The Census: May AN Now Online

May Anthropology News In Focus commentaries on the census are now posted on our Current Featured News page, free to the public throughout the month. This month’s In Focus articles are by Laurie Schwede; Laura R Graham and Ana Celia Zentella; Jennifer Leeman; Jack Garrett; Catherine Bliss; John Ziker, Per Axelsson, Peter Sköld and David G Anderson; Isar P Godreau, Hilda Lloréns and Carlos Vargas-Ramos; Kristin Skrabut; and Joshua Craze. Full issue content is available via AnthroSource, including additional thematic articles from other sections by contributors David G Anderson and Edward González-Tennant.

Censuses are powerful mechanisms that both reflect and construct social taxonomies in profound ways, impacting nations’ perceptions of themselves, legislation, the distribution of government funds, and the provision of public services. In this US Census year we have asked AN readers to critically consider this tool: how it is (re)constructed over time, its uses and limitations, its intended and unintended effects. The following commentaries examine censuses and related issues in the US, Puerto Rico, Peru, Scandinavia, the Siberian Arctic and Sudan. Read this month’s commentaries to learn more!


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