Marinka photo

Marinka Swift, PhD

IRISE Associate Director

What I do

Research interests: Language ideologies, belonging, language and power, immigration and citizenship, social organization, space, resistance, language policy, education policy, immigration policy.

Preferred methodologies: Ethnography

Theoretical frameworks: Raciolinguistics; Critical Race and Language Theory


Professional Biography

Marinka Swift is a first-generation college graduate, researcher, educator, and linguist. Marinka’s research focuses on issues around language (in)equities. Her research projects to date have utilized ethnographic methods to explore language ideologies, language and (im)migration, education and language policy, and language and power. Her research program examines these issues through the frameworks of Critical Race Theory, Critical Race and Language Theory, and Raciolinguistics. 

A native Californian, Marinka completed undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Italian at Wheaton College in Massachusetts and is a graduate of Middlebury College where she received her M.A. in Italian Linguistics and Pedagogy, as well as the University of California at Davis where she received her M.A. and will soon receive her PhD in Linguistics.  

Marinka is passionate about applied scholarship that elevates inclusion. Her approach to research and program design aim to address and disrupt exclusionary ideologies that contribute to disparities in sense of belonging across spaces and exchanges. She has presented her research at national and international conferences, such as the International Conference on Language and Migration and the National Two-Way Bilingual Immersion conference.  

Prior to joining DU and IRISE, Marinka was a researcher and student support specialist at the University of California of Davis where she developed a successful retention initiative program aimed to mitigate opportunity gaps and disparities in retention and persistence of underserved first-year college students in agricultural and environmental sciences.  

As a Tinker Foundation grant recipient in 2017, Marinka joined the Humanizando la Deportación research team in Tijuana, Mexico where she collaborated with adults in producing digital stories (testimonial audiovisual shorts) focusing on the issues they think need to be made known regarding contemporary experiences with border and migration control mechanisms. Her publication in the Journal of Belonging, Identity, Language, and Diversity explored the relationship between language and citizen identity as experienced and expressed by authors of this digital archive.  

Marinka’s research also explores ways language is used to create and sustain hierarchies of power and to justify abuse. For example, she examined testimonies of prisoner abuse in Guantánamo which are archived by the UC Davis Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas. This study is not yet published but explored discourse markers of justification used throughout government reports and prisoner testimonies.  

Most recently, Marinka’s doctoral research explored the role of language in the academic experiences of Chicana/o/e/x and Latina/o/e/x university students. The findings of this research project contributed to the development of  campus-wide collaborations and initiatives around inclusionary language ideologies, practices, and professional trainings at the University of California, Davis. Marinka will present findings from her doctoral research at two upcoming conferences in 2022. 

*Photo courtesy of @beboulderphotography 


Ph.D. Linguistics, University of California, Davis, 2022 

M.A. Linguistics, University of California, Davis, 2016 

M.A. Italian Linguistics and Pedagogy, Middlebury College, 2012 

B.A. Italian Studies, Wheaton College (MA), 2009 

B.A. Psychology, Wheaton College (MA), 2009