An American Language is a tour de force that revolutionizes our understanding of U.S. history. It reveals the origins of Spanish as a language binding residents of the Southwest to the politics and culture of an expanding nation in the 1840s. As the West increasingly integrated into the United States over the following century, struggles over power, identity, and citizenship transformed the place of the Spanish language in the nation. An American Language is a history that reimagines what it means to be an American—with profound implications for our own time.
Rosina Lozano is Assistant Professor of History at Princeton University.
“Original and provocative, beautifully written and argued, An American Language tells a story of our nation’s past that brilliantly illuminates our present: that the United States of America was born multilingual.”—John Mack Faragher, Howard R. Lamar Professor Emeritus, Yale University
“In this timely and important book, Rosina Lozano reveals that little is as all-American as the Spanish language. An American Language opens up a whole new way of envisioning the century that followed the U.S.-Mexican War and introduces a powerful new scholarly voice.”—Karl Jacoby, author of The Strange Career of William Ellis: The Texas Slave Who Became a Mexican Millionaire
“Lozano has given us an original and imaginative story of contests over power, governance, and belonging that places language—and the Spanish language in particular—at the center of her analysis. In so doing, she offers a new and rich perspective on the development of the American Southwest since the middle of the nineteenth century, on the deeper meanings of American culture and politics, and on the complex ways in which citizenship is constructed.”—Steven Hahn, author of A Nation without Borders: The United States and Its World in an Age of Civil Wars, 1830–1910
“This deeply original history explains how Spanish speakers in the United States interacted with government power in the century after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. An American Language has something novel and urgent to say about identity, pluralism, and the state. Lozano has written an ambitious and important book.”—Brian DeLay, author of War of a Thousand Deserts: Indian Raids and the U.S.-Mexican War
“This book is a tour de force with powerfully important implications. It definitively refutes reigning assumptions that the United States has always been a monolingual Anglophone nation and that recent and current immigration poses an unprecedented threat through its language diversity. Lozano presents detailed accounts of the historical role of Spanish as a state-sanctioned language and demonstrates how this was an important crucible of identity and power in the U.S. past. An American Language reveals a hidden history of the Spanish language in the United States.”—George Lipsitz, author of How Racism Takes Place