Culturelessness as a Conceptual Framework: Cultural Capital and Racialization in Novice Language Teacher Pedagogies
Tasha Austin

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University at Buffalo

Primary Discipline

Teacher Education/Teaching and Learning
All teaching is language teaching. As such, the uptick in culturally relevant and sustaining practices or approaches (CR/SP) to language instruction has implications particularly for Black and racially minoritized learners. The myriad and sometimes contradictory ways in which culture is understood, however, can stall the efforts of K-12 teachers despite their preparation to address cultural relevance in their pedagogies. The conceptual framework offered in my 2022 dissertation entitled, “Race, Language and Ideology in an Urban Teacher Preparation Program,” addresses this phenomenon of culturelessness– “a spectrum wherein cultural ‘capital’ cannot coexist with race (Black or white)” (Austin, 2023, p.4). It offers a lens through which to understand the varied and often race-centric considerations and applications of CR/SP as a valuable means to educate students which manifests in its uneven uptake in language education. Through semi-structured interviews and focus groups, this post-doctoral project aims to develop and apply culturelessness as a framework to extend the findings of the aforementioned dissertation work in mapping how novice teachers’ conceptions of culture, their own and that of their students’, emerge in their pedagogical decision-making. Findings can enhance and reframe calls for culturally relevant and sustaining pedagogies across policy, research and applied practice.
About Tasha Austin
Austin, Tasha
Tasha Austin PhD is an assistant professor of teacher education, language education and multilingualism for SUNY Buffalo, Graduate School of Education. Having earned the degree Doctor of Philosophy from the Rutgers, School of Graduate Studies in 2022, her research uses critical race theory and Black feminist epistemologies through a raciolinguistic perspective to qualitatively examine language, identity and power, and the ways in which anti-Blackness emerges in language education and (language) teacher preparation. Her dissertation was awarded the 2023 American Education Research Association Outstanding Dissertation Award for both the Critical Educators for Social Justice special interest group and for Division K (Teaching and Teacher Education). Her research publications have been awarded by the New York State Foreign Language Teachers and Northeast Conference on Teaching Foreign Languages, and she was previously awarded a Spencer Small Grant for her ongoing investigation entitled, “Excavating the Oral Histories of Black World Language Teachers” (2024). She fundamentally conceives of her work as contributing to scholarship that repositions teachers as learners particularly alongside their racially minoritized students with an emphasis upon language education spaces. Her research can be found in the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (2021), Journal for Multicultural Education (2022), the International Journal of Literacy, Culture and Education (2022), Educational Linguistics (2023), Applied Linguistics (2024) and Foreign Language Annals (2024) among others. 

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