My doctoral work engages diverse Tanzanian children as co-ethnographers of their own language and literacy practices. I partner with Tanzanian children to make visible their resourcefulness, generate materials centring their own languages and perspectives, and catalyze dialogue on how their funds of knowledge can be embraced as foundational educational resources.
Acknowledging the rich linguistic, semiotic, and cultural resources of children, my doctoral work engages diverse Tanzanian children as co-ethnographers of their own language and literacy practices. Schooling, in Tanzania and elsewhere, tends to privilege language and literacy practices of the elite, and to mute the linguistic and semiotic resources of diverse populations. My work partners with Tanzanian children to make visible their resourcefulness, generate materials centring their own languages and perspectives, and catalyze dialogue on how their funds of knowledge can be embraced as foundational educational resources. Employing participatory visual methodologies, my research involves collaborating with schools to create opportunities for 10-12-year-old children to use drawing, photovoice, and multilingual, multimodal bookmaking to explore, affirm, and expand their diverse language and literacy practices. Through their participation in this research, children will also explore their imagined futures, the roles of diverse languages and literacies in these imagined futures, and how education might be reimagined to make space for more diverse languages and literacies in the service of access, equity, and the alternative futures they envision. Comparing two schools of contrasting social class positions, this study also investigates intersections between social class and access to the languages and literacies of schooling, exploring implications for equity.
What does being a Public Scholar mean to you?
Being a Public Scholar means using scholarship as a conduit for social change, through both the process and the products of research. Public scholarship means being committed to the real-world impact of one’s work, having an action orientation, and engaging with issues and conversations beyond the confines of academia.
In what ways do you think the PhD experience can be re-imagined with the Public Scholars Initiative?
I am passionate about participatory and creative methodologies, and, for me, reimagining methodological possibilities is a critical part of meaningful, community-engaged PhD work. I believe that knowledge production is necessarily a collaborative process, and am interested in reimagining the PhD in ways that centre collaboration and co-ownership of research. I think we need to be creative in how we think about and value the products of our research, and to embrace approaches to dissemination that are accessible and of value to the general public. My work is about exploring and celebrating diverse languages and literacies. PhD scholarship can be greatly enriched by incorporating a broader range of modalities, languages, and ways of knowing into our methodologies and representations of our research.
How do you envision connecting your PhD work with broader career possibilities?
My work has connected me with a wide array of community organizations, schools, NGOs, and other institutions. I hope to continue and expand these collaborations to further social justice-oriented education work in the future.
How does your research engage with the larger community and social partners?
My work involves partnering with Tanzanian children as co-ethnographers and with schools as collaborators in this research. The products of this research, including drawings, photovoice, and multilingual, multimodal books, will be shared with broader communities, thereby sparking dialogue while also making available useful educational resources. This project is an extension of my work with Cheche Community Library, a learning centre I founded in 2015, which engages the larger community in imagining educational alternatives through the centring of multilingualism, multimodality, and local knowledges.
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
Graduate studies offer space to spend focused time deep-diving into questions and issues that I am deeply passionate about and that I believe are urgent in struggles for a more just world.
Why did you choose to come to British Columbia and study at UBC?
I decided to study at UBC because I wanted to work with my supervisors, Dr. Bonny Norton and Dr. Marlene Asselin, whose work I had drawn on extensively in the past and wanted to build on in my doctoral research.
Public scholarship means being committed to the real-world impact of one’s work, having an action orientation, and engaging with issues and conversations beyond the confines of academia.