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Maya Smith

Assistant Professor in French

Contact Information

PDL C-257
Office Hours: 
By appointment


PhD, Romance Languages and Linguistics, University of California, Berkeley, 2013

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 current book project, Senegal Abroad: Linguistic Borders, Cultural Imaginaries and Racial Formations, employs ethnographic, qualitative research to explore the relationship between language and the construction of national, postcolonial, racial, and migrant identities among diasporic Senegalese in Paris, Rome, and New York. This is a book about language attitudes, how these attitudes influence people’s interactions with the world (both locally and globally), and how through migration these attitudes change across time and space. Based on the discourse-analytic approach adopted in the study, it is not only what her interviewees say that conveys certain understandings of self and environment. It is also how they speak—the ways in which they switch between languages and structure their discourse—that contributes to their means of making identity claims. Recent articles relating to this subject include: 

"Multilingual Practices of Senegalese Immigrants in Rome: Construction of Identities and Negotiation of Boundaries" (Italian Culture 2015, 33:2, 126-146)
"Who is a legitimate French speaker? The Senegalese in Paris and the crossing of linguistic and social borders" (French Cultural Studies 2015, 26:3, 317–329)

Maya is also interested in language pedagogy and has published the following:

"French Heritage Language Learning: a Site of Community Building, Cultural Exploration and Self-reflection" (Critical Multilingualism Studies 2017, 5:2, 10-38)

"Using Interconnected Texts to Highlight Culture in the Foreign Language Classroom" (L2 Journal 2015, 5:2, 1-17)

Maya has also been the recipient of various grants including the Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship for Junior Faculty, the UW Research Royalty Fund Fellowship, and the Simpson Center Society of Scholars.


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