The Wager of Critical Multilingualism Studies


  • Abraham Acosta University of Arizona


Political theory, use-value, Jacques Rancière, Zapatista movement, monolingualism


This essay reflects on the potential meanings of ‘critical multilingualism studies’ in an era of unparalleled cultural and economic porosity, exploring how such a scholarly and theoretical field might reimagine inter- and multilingual inquiry in the Humanities, Comparative Literature, Latin American Studies, critical theory, and second language acquisition. Applying insights from Jacques Rancière, Jean Beaudrilliard, Carlos Montemayor, Horacio Castellanos Moya, and Friedrich Nietzsche, Acosta interrogates the ideological distinction between ‘monolingual signification’ and ‘translational signification’, between universalist abstractions and the specific language(s) from which they issue. Taking the Zapatista uprisings of 1994 as a case study, Acosta then turns to how the ascription “monolingual” has been mobilized in Mexican public discourse.

Author Biography

Abraham Acosta, University of Arizona

Acosta is Assistant Professor of Latin American Cultural Studies in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. He came to the University of Arizona from the University of Michigan where he received a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature (2007). Prof. Acosta's areas of interest include contemporary Latin American narrative, critical hybridity, political narratology, subaltern studies, postcolonial theory, and critical theory. His current research project is on the biopolitics of orality/literacy in 20th century Latin American cutural discourse.