About Me. Kuhusu Mimi.
I love the Swahili language! I love science fiction! I'm an inclusion advocate! And I'm always learning.
📌 One of the ways I continue to work on new challenges is through my current appointment as Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Santa Monica College (on academic leave, 2022-2023). I teach linguistics as an introduction to language, communication, and meaning. Through my courses, students consider how they can use language as a tool of building community and dismantling structural oppression.
📌 I also teach graduate courses as an Adjunct Lecturer in Linguistics at California State University, Dominguez Hills.
📌 Previously, during 2022-2023, I was a FUSE Executive Fellow, and Workplace Climate and Culture Lead, for the Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office (CEO), and its Anti-Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (ARDI) Initiative.
As linguistics faculty, I demonstrate how understanding language use and interaction can unlock and unpack human behavior. I also show how qualitative and experimental studies in linguistics provide insight into human differences, and link to the arts, politics, public health, artificial intelligence, and popular culture.
📌 I additionally consult on diversity and instructional design in international education, and lead workshops on language and antiracism for higher-ed and community organizations. In these efforts, I draw upon my extensive experience in pedagogical, curricular, and organizational interventions for equity, diversity, and inclusion.
📚 My forthcoming anthropological study is entitled, Zombies Speak Swahili: Race, Sci-fi, and Horror from Mexico to Tanzania and Hollywood (Oxford University Press). Making reference to the uses of Swahili in the survival horror videogame Resident Evil and Hollywood blockbuster film Get Out, I explore zombies and dystopia as metaphors for historical and contemporary experiences of racism, linguistic oppression, (neo)colonialism, and globalization. The book is an ode to viral Black language.
📚 Zombies Speak Swahili centers on the appropriation of Swahili by both African and Western interests, from Disney to Resident Evil and Get Out.
📚 In 2019, I also co-edited the book, Embodied Difference: Divergent Bodies in Public Discourse (Lexington Press), available now in paperback and digital.
A deliberate feminist response to the Trump era, Embodied Difference brings the body politics of everyday life into focus through 10 unique studies of dance and popular culture, speculative fiction, grassroots organizing, mass shootings, and ethical flash points in healthcare policy, technology, and biomedicine. The volume features contributions by humanistic scholars I brought together through the 'Morality, Race, and Body' research network in Philadelphia, beginning in 2016.
Zombies, Popular Media, Language Learning, & Public Health.
Mizuka, Vyombo vya Habari Maarufu, Ujifunzaji wa Lugha, & Afya wa Umma
My research addresses identity formation and representations of these identities in classrooms, popular media (including Internet memes), and public space. I'm greatly fascinated by the zombie as a metaphor for miscommunication, cultural anxiety, and racialized disempowerment.
📌 Media and entertainment representations of 'unintelligibility', 'savagery', and contagion often guide our thinking as to who counts as human. This is why I teach on zombies as a way of bringing linguistics into the study of popular culture. I am a zombie linguist.
📌 I also have ongoing projects regarding zombie Internet memes, and racial equity in higher education and the teaching of linguistics.
📌 In 2021, I was awarded a grant for research on racial equity in healthcare by Verilogue, along with my co-author, Debi Thomas, MD (University of California, Davis, Medical Center). Our project examines doctor-patient communication and patient self-advocacy during doctors' visits for treatment of chronic disease.
📌 Further drawing upon my own experiences, I also examine the learning of Swahili and Arabic, and the speaking of African American Language (AAL). This touches upon language learning by multilingual adults on study abroad in Tanzania and Jordan, people of African descent in Mexico, and the intersecting politics of identity formation, historical inequity, and language policy in the U.S. and around the world.
Earlier & Ongoing Projects.
Miradi Iliyokamilika & Inayoendelea.
In 2018, I expanded my online video project #languagestory with a new documentary research video on study abroad in Jordan. This project brings ethnography of language use, international education, and intercultural communication into the public sphere. I tweet updates to the project and interact with a growing community of enthusiasts.
📌 My previous research has investigated morphosyntactic development in Swahili as a foreign language. I revisited this work with a talk on new data at the 2015 International Symposium on Monolingual and Bilingual Speech.
Utafiti Uwandani wa Karibuni.
In Fall 2018, I returned to Kuwait for follow-up interviews with African American expatriate educators. In particular, we talked about racial identity formation, intercultural dating, and workplace experiences with blackface and racial slurs. I look forward to publishing findings of this research!
📌 Previous fieldwork includes co-directorship of summer fieldwork experiences for students on African Diaspora and revolutionary politics in Cuba (2017); and endangered languages in Mexico (2016) and Micronesia (2015), with support of National Science Foundation (NSF) REU grants.
Educational Background. Maelezo ya Elimu Wangu.
I completed my PhD in Second Language Studies (Applied Linguistics) at Michigan State University in 2013 with specialized training in ethnographic research, statistical analysis, and educational technology. In 2006, I received my BA in Anthropology and Swahili Studies from Washington University in St. Louis. I also hold a certificate, completed in 2008, in Second Language Acquisition and African-Language Pedagogy from the National African Language Resource Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison. In February 2020, I completed training in online pedagogy, on Equity and Culturally Responsive Teaching in the Online Environment.
Muhtasari Kwa Kiswahili (Summary in Swahili).
Katika Chuo cha Santa Monica, mimi ni profesa msaidizi kuzuru wa isimu, ambapo ninafundisha kozi zinahusiana na muundo wa lugha, isimujamii, utamaduni, na utambulisho. Nilikamilisha shahada yangu ya PhD kuhusu masomo ya lugha za kipili (isimu ya kielimu) katika Chuo Kikuu cha Jimbo la Michigan mwaka wa 2013, na nilipokea shahada yangu ya kwanza kutoka Chuo Kikuu cha Washington mjini St. Louis katika uwanja wa anthropolojia na masomo ya Kiswahili mwaka wa 2006. Pia mwaka wa 2008 nilikamilisha shahada kutoka Chuo Kikuu cha Jimbo la Wisconsin mjini Madison, Kituo cha Taifa cha Rasilimali za Lugha za Kiafrika, katika uwanja wa ujifunzaji wa lugha za kipili na ufundishaji wa lugha za Kiafrika. Katika Februari 2020, nilikamilisha fanyamazoezi kuhusu namna ya kufundisha kwa mtandao, hususani Ufundisha kwa Mtandao kwa Namna ya Usawa na Kiutamaduni ya Kiitikia.