Maya Angela Smith

Associate Professor of French
University of Washington
Seattle, Washington USA

maya angela smithHaving received my PhD in romance languages and linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, I investigate identity formations among marginalized groups in the African diaspora, particularly in the postcolonial francophone world. Much of my work has been focused on Senegal and its diaspora. For instance, my first book, Senegal Abroad: Linguistic Borders, Racial Formations and Diasporic Imaginaries (University of Wisconsin Press), offers a critical examination of language and multilingual practices in qualitative, ethnographic data to show how language is key in understanding the formation of national, transnational, postcolonial, racial and migrant identities among Senegalese in Paris, Rome, and New York. This is a book about language attitudes, how they influence people's local and global interactions with the world, how they change through the experience of migration and how in turn they affect migrants' language use.

My most recent publication, "The Journal Rappé: 'Edutaining' the Youth Through Senegalese Hip-Hop," is an essay in the edited volume Africa Every Day (Ohio University Press), which explores how Senegalese hip-hop artists Xuman and Keyti rap the news in French and Wolof in order to spark civic engagement among the youth population.

For me, international justice is not just meted out in international courts and tribunals. Justice is also experienced in everyday interactions as people engage with a range of institutions and negotiate various power dynamics. How can people's reflections on language broaden our understanding of societal belonging?

Areas of Interest

Academic Publications

Public Scholarship