About. Kuhusu Mimi.
I love thinking strategically about education, popular media, and human interaction. I have lived with and worked among communities in Jordan, Malaysia, Mexico, Micronesia, South Africa, and Tanzania.
My goal is to guide my project teams and students to think in non-linear ways about their lives and the way they interact with others. I'm continually seeking ways to get to know people, and make things better through human-centered outreach and detailed communication.
I'm always learning.
One of the ways I continue to work on new challenges is through my current appointment at Swarthmore College. I teach across sociolinguistics, anthropology, identity, culture, technology, communication, Swahili, and research methods. As an assistant professor of linguistics I demonstrate how understanding language use and interaction can unlock and unpack human behavior. I also show how qualitative and experimental studies in sociocultural linguistics provide insight into the arts, politics, and popular culture.
Field trips are an important part of my educational practice, as a way of getting students out of the classroom and into neighborhoods, urban centers, and museums.
I also consult on diversity and instructional design in international education, drawing upon my extensive experience in pedagogical and curricular interventions for diversity and inclusion.
My ethnography is entitled, Zombies Speak Swahili (Oxford University Press). Making reference to the uses of Swahili in the survival horror videogame Resident Evil and blockbuster film Get Out, I explore dystopia as a metaphor for historical and contemporary experiences of racism, (neo)colonialism, and globalization. The book centers on the appropriation of Swahili by both African and Western interests. I also introduce numerous examples of Swahili as spoken by non-Tanzanians, Africanists, and learners on study abroad, with the goal of complicating our ideas of who speaks Swahili and why. These narratives become a way of interrogating race, ethnicity, color, gender, masculinity, and diaspora among transnational speakers and learners of Swahili in Mexico, Tanzania, and the U.S.
During 2016-2017, I collaborated with Swarthmore College colleagues in Black Studies, Spanish, the Black Cultural Center, and the Dean’s Office, to develop a curricular focus for our Afro-Cuba Experiential Learning and Research Program. Together, we vetted student applicants, provided research mentorship, and arranged logistical support. The program included summer fieldwork in Cuba (Havana and Santiago de Cuba), and concluded in Fall 2017 with further research mentoring, and student poster presentations.
In Summer 2016, I worked with the National Science Foundation REU Linguistics Field School in Oaxaca, Mexico, where I co-supervised and facilitated a team a team of undergraduates learning to document and preserve endangered languages. We worked with speakers of Zapotec to enhance the online Talking Dictionary project for language preservation.
This continued my efforts in collaboration with colleagues on the REU grant in Summer 2015, when we took students to Pohnpei, Micronesia. There, we worked with speakers of Kapingamarangi, Mokilese, Nukuoro, and Pingelap to record local folklore and key vocabulary and grammar.
Zombies and Language Learning
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.
Drawing upon my own experiences, I examine the learning of Swahili and Arabic by college-level learners on study abroad in Tanzania and Jordan. I also explore multilingualism, translanguaging, and language planning and policy as related to language learning and teaching.
Earlier & Ongoing Projects
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.
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.
Katika Chuo cha Swarthmore, mimi ni profesa msaidizi kuzuru wa isimu na mchunguzi baada ya shahada ya udaktari, ambapo ninafundisha kozi zinahusiana na isimujamii, utamaduni, utambulisho, na Kiswahili. 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.