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Maya Smith

Assistant Professor in French

Contact Information

PDL C-257
Office Hours: 
MW 12:30-1:20pm


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 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 current book project, Senegal Abroad: Linguistic Borders, Racial Formations, and Diasporic Imaginaries, will be 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. This sociolinguistic perspective is an outlier in African diaspora studies but offers an important tool in understanding racial formation. 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.


Courses Taught

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