Re-Storying ?Paradise?: Language, Imperial Formations of Tourism, and Youth Futures in the Dominican Republic
Molly Hamm-Rodriguez

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of Colorado Boulder

Primary Discipline

Globally, scholars and education practitioners focusing on school-to-work transitions and college and career readiness seek to align education systems?including skills and competency development frameworks?with local labor markets. However, critiques of these education models are frequently limited to neoliberalism and privatization, operating within assumptions of a bounded nation-state and insufficiently grappling with the transnational historical precedents of raced, classed, gendered, linguistic, geopolitical, and spatial stratification. This study brings racial capitalism and imperialism to the forefront of critiques about college and career readiness models while engaging youth participatory action research to disrupt these forces. Using a raciolinguistic perspective (Rosa & Flores, 2020), this project explores how youth language and literacy practices become the target for intervention and how youth re-story these framings. I build on a decade of professional and personal experience in the Dominican Republic to conduct 12 months of research with Dominican and Haitian youth using ethnographic, linguistic, and participatory action research methods. Taking place in the province of Puerto Plata, a major tourism hub, this study aims to disrupt the sociotechnical imaginaries (Jasanoff & Kim, 2015) that frame youth as deficient and instead reveal how youth prefigure alternative worlds and re-story the utopian dreams of a Caribbean ?paradise? whose benefits are inequitably distributed. In particular, the study focuses on how youth build and develop a language of solidarity (Martinez, 2017) across difference to draw from and expand their multilingual and stylistic linguistic practices as they critique and contest shared struggles for survival in the Caribbean (Roland, 2011).
About Molly Hamm-Rodriguez
Molly Hamm-Rodríguez is a Ph.D. candidate in Equity, Bilingualism, and Biliteracy at the University of Colorado Boulder. Molly?s dissertation situates school-to-work transitions within longer transnational histories of educational policy and labor to complicate widely held beliefs about the relationships between language, literacy, and employment. By examining the talk and everyday negotiations of youth within a Caribbean tourism economy, this study reveals how certain labor markets constrain social futures while illuminating the alternative worlds that youth imagine and build. Her ethnographic research in the Dominican Republic was funded by Fulbright-Hays and Wenner-Gren. As a graduate student at CU Boulder, Molly has taught undergraduate and master?s level courses for pre- and in-service teachers on multilingual language development and bilingual education. She has worked as a research assistant at bilingual elementary schools in Colorado through Literacy Squared and a Spencer-funded bilingual writing project. She has also supported school districts transforming teaching and learning for emergent bilinguals, including as a research assistant for an OELA National Professional Development grant and other projects with the BUENO Center for Multicultural Education. She has co-authored empirical and practitioner-oriented articles in Applied Linguistics; archipelagos: a journal of Caribbean digital praxis; CENTRO: Journal for the Center of Puerto Rican Studies; Language Arts; Learning, Culture, and Social Interaction; TESOL Quarterly; and The Reading Teacher. Molly received an M.A. in International Educational Development from Teachers College, Columbia University and a B.A. in English and B.S. in Secondary Education from Kansas State University. She is a proud mom to her son, Jordy.

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