cultural history, Discrimination, Immigration, LGBTIQ, memory, Spanish, trauma

Perceived Discrimination in Contemporary Australian Society: Dr. Sol Rojas-Lizana

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Submission by: Dr. Sol Rojas-Lizana

Rojas-Lizana, Sol. The Discourse of Perceived Discrimination: Perspectives from Contemporary Australian Society. Routledge, 2019.

A new publication from Dr. Sol Rojas-Lizana, The Discourse of Perceived Discrimination: Perspectives from Contemporary Australian Society, is due for release on 4 October 2019. This book, which explores discrimination against two minority groups in contemporary Australia: LGBTIQ community and Spanish-speaking immigrants from the perspective of the victims, is somewhat timely in its publication. As Australian society becomes increasingly diverse, the voices of minority groups are no longer a distant rumble in the background. However despite changing social norms and community acceptance of groups such as LGBTIQ and foreign immigrants, unfortunately the experience of overt and casual racism and discrimination is still prevalent.

The author of this book, Dr. Sol Rojas-Lizana is a lecturer in the Spanish and Latin American Studies Program at the School of Languages and Cultures. Dr. Rojas-Lizana has previously studied at universities in Chile, South Africa as well as in Australia. Her international experiences in a variety of countries have helped inform her research. Dr. Rojas-Lizana’s main areas of research are in Discourse Studies from a decolonial perspective, with a specialisation in issues of discrimination, trauma and memory.

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Dr. Rojas-Lizana’s new book, The Discourse of Perceived Discrimination: Perspectives from Contemporary Australian Society, uses a critical discourse studies perspective (or put simply talk and text, that views language as a form of social practice), to move toward a better understanding of perceived discrimination within contemporary Australian society. The text offers a number of valuable tools with which to document and analyse perceived discrimination through a number of lenses.

Drawing on data from discourse from two minority groups, self-identified members of an LGBTIQ community and Spanish-speaking immigrants in Australia, Dr. Rojas-Lizana explores topics as the relationship between language and discrimination, the conditions for determining what constitutes discriminatory acts, and both the copying and resistance strategies victims employ in their experiences. This research is important because it centres on the experiences of people who are on the receiving end of discriminatory acts, focusing on their interpretation and perception of such acts, rather than on the intent of those perpetrating the speech or acts in question. This subjectivity is vital in unpacking the cumulative effects of discrimination on the victims, no matter how large or small the individual acts may be.

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Several chapter titles include quotes from Rojas-Lizana’s research,  which aptly demonstrate the way in which language can  create deep psychological distress. Examples include: “‘He called me it.’ Perceived Discrimination in the discourse of people identifying as LGBTIQ in Australia”; and “‘She said no because I talk funny.’ Perceived Discrimination in the discourse of Spanish speaking immigrants in Australia”.

What Dr. Rojas-Lizana’s research shows is despite the differences in these communities, there are shared experiences between the two. Her concluding chapter offers a broader comparison of the conclusions drawn from both the LBGTIQ and Spanish speaking immigrant communities, discussing these implications for further research on perceived discrimination.

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The Discourse of Perceived Discrimination: Perspectives from Contemporary Australian Society will appeal to students and scholars in critical discourse studies, social policy, gender and sexuality studies, as well as those in migration studies.

Dr. Sol Rojas-Lizana has published three books (five books as a translator), and her work has appeared in journals such as Discourse Studies, Journal of Pragmatics, Forensic Linguistics, Languages in Contrast, Babel, Delaware Review of Latin American Studies, and JILAR, among others. Her co-authored historical Graphic Memoir Historias Clandestinas (2014) is currently being made into a film.

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