Maya Smith completed her undergraduate and master’s degree at New York University in the joint MA/BA program with the Institute of French Studies. She received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in Romance Languages and Linguistics. Her scholarship broadly focuses on the intersection of racial and linguistic identity formations among marginalized groups in the African diaspora, particularly in the postcolonial francophone world. Her book, Senegal Abroad: Linguistic Borders, Racial Formations, and Diasporic Imaginaries, was published with the University of Wisconsin Press in January 2019. Through a critical examination of language and multilingual practices in qualitative, ethnographic data, Senegal Abroad shows 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. Senegal Abroad received the Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for French and Francophone Studies at the MLA 2021. In addition to the Senegalese Diaspora, Maya is interested in how blackness is constructed in the French Caribbean and in inclusive language pedagogies.
Maya also believes deeply in the importance of public scholarship and has written about or presented on a range of subjects. She has published the following Op-Eds:
She has also been interviewed for podcasts and radio shows:
Maya has been the recipient of various grants including the Camargo Foundation's Author-in-Residence Fellowship, the Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship for Junior Faculty, the UW Research Royalty Fund Fellowship, the Simpson Center Society of Scholars.
- Smith, Maya Angela. Inclusive pedagogies in Italian studies: Using sociolinguistic data to decolonise the curriculum. (2022). Italian Studies in Southern Africa, vol. 35, no. 1, pp. 204-225.
- Smith, Maya Angela. Negotiating Martinican Identity amid French Universalism: Racial and Linguistic Considerations. (2018). Francospheres 7(1), 49-69.
- Smith, Maya Angela. French Heritage Language Learning: a Site of Community Building, Cultural Exploration and Self-reflection. (2017). Critical Multilingualism Studies 5(2), 10-38.
- Smith, Maya Angela. Who is a Legitimate French Speaker?: The Senegalese in Paris and the Crossing of Linguistic and Social Borders. (2015). French Cultural Studies 26(3), 317–329.
- Smith, Maya Angela. Practices of Senegalese Immigrants in Rome: Construction of Identities and Negotiation of Boundaries. (2015). Italian Culture 33(2), 126-146.
- Using Interconnected Texts to Highlight Culture in the Foreign Language Classroom. (2013). L2 Journal. 5(2).
- Teaching Intertextuality and Recontextualization through Music. (2012). Berkeley Language Center Newsletter. Vol. 27, no. 2.
- Smith, Maya Angela. Senegal Abroad: Linguistic borders, racial formations, and diasporic imaginaries. University of Wisconsin Press, 2019.
- Smith, Maya Angela. Ne Me Quitte Pas: A Song’s Travels across Languages, Geographies, Genres, and Generations. Duke University Press (under contract)
- Bridges, Alvenia, and Maya Angela Smith. Reclaiming Venus: The Many Lives of Alvenia Bridges. Rising Action Press, 2024.
- Smith, Maya Angela. “The Senegalese diaspora in Rome: Romanesco and other nonstandard varieties in the face of standard language ideologies.” Italo-Romance Dialects in the Linguistic Repertoires of Immigrants in Italy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 169-96, 2022.
- Benaglia, Cecilia and Smith, Maya. 2022. “Multilingual Texts and Contexts: Inclusive Pedagogies in the French Foreign Language Classroom” in Diversity and Decolonization in French Studies. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 17-32. Download PDF
- Smith, Maya Angela. “The Journal Rappé: ‘Edutaining’ the Youth through Senegalese Hip-Hop.” Africa Every Day: Fun, Leisure, and Expressive Culture on the Continent, edited by Kemi Balogun, Lisa Gilman, Melissa Graboyes, and Habib Iddrisu. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2019.