José del Valle joined The Graduate Center in 2002 and served as executive officer of the Ph.D. Program in Latin American, Iberian and Latino Cultures between 2011 and 2017. He is also a faculty member in the Ph.D. Program in Linguistics and in the Ph.D. Program in Urban Education. He received his Licenciatura in 1988 from the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, Spain; his M.A. in 1990 from the University at Buffalo (SUNY); and his Ph.D. in 1994 from Georgetown University. As a result of his doctoral work, which dealt with issues of Spanish socio-historical linguistics and language change theory, he published El trueque s/x en español antiguo: Aproximaciones teóricas (Max Niemeyer, 1996).
His research then turned to linguistic ideologies and the politics of language. In this area, Del Valle coedited, with Luis Gabriel-Stheeman, The Battle Over Spanish Between 1800 and 2000: Language Ideologies and Hispanic Intellectuals (Routledge, 2002), which examines the postcolonial linguistic construction of national and pan-Hispanic identities in Spain and Latin America. An expanded Spanish edition of this book, La batalla del idioma: La intelectualidad hispánica ante la lengua, was published in 2004 (Vervuert-Iberoamericana). In 2007, he published La lengua ¿patria común? Ideas e ideologías del español (Vervuert-Iberoamericana), which deals with Spain’s contemporary language policies and geopolitical interests in Latin America; and in 2013 he coedited A Political History of Spanish: The Making of a Language (Cambridge University Press; Spanish edition in Aluvión, 2016).
In addition to publishing widely in scholarly journals and contributing to several edited volumes, Del Valle guest-edited a 2011 special issue of Sociolinguistic Studies on the representation of transnational languages in the context of globalization, high modernity, and new imperialism; a 2010 special issue of Spanish in Context on language, politics and ideology (with Elvira Arnoux); and a 2019 special issue of Glottopol on language and social struggle in Hispano-Lusophone spaces (with Elvira Arnoux and Alexandre Duchêne).
In 2010 he received the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.