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Spotlight on … Jonathan Rosa ’03

Jonathan Rosa ’03, a linguistic anthropologist at Stanford University, received the 2018 Charles A. Ferguson Award for Outstanding Scholarship, presented by the Center for Applied Linguistics.

What does this honor mean to you?

Charles A. Ferguson founded the Center for Applied Linguistics and helped to establish the Department of Linguistics at Stanford University. His research is characterized by a global perspective on languages and cultures, with a particular focus on the ways that societal hierarchies arbitrarily structure identities and communicative practices, as well as the ways in which people live beyond these boundaries. I am deeply inspired by Ferguson’s approach to the study of language and culture, in particular his commitment to challenging borders that constrain movement, communication, and imaginations. 

How has Swarthmore shaped your career—and your life?

As a Linguistics major at Swarthmore, I had the opportunity to intern at the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, DC. I built from my training in formal linguistics at Swat to investigate the ways in which ideas about language play a central role in shaping the lives of populations across societal contexts. These formative experiences at Swat led me to pursue a career as a linguistic anthropologist, with a broader goal of reimagining linguistic, ethnoracial, and geopolitical borders.  

What advice would you give current Swarthmoreans hoping to follow in your path?

Swarthmore is an incredible context in which to investigate and reimagine possible worlds, not only in formal classroom discussions and assignments but across campus in student organizations and everyday dialogues, as well as in broader collaborations linking Swarthmore to local and global communities.