Senegal Abroad explores the fascinating role of language in national, transnational, postcolonial, racial, and migrant identities. Capturing the experiences of Senegalese in Paris, Rome, and New York, it depicts how they make sense of who they are—and how they fit into their communities, countries, and the larger global Senegalese diaspora. Drawing on extensive interviews with a wide range of emigrants as well as people of Senegalese heritage, Maya Angela Smith contends that they shape their identity as they purposefully switch between languages and structure their discourse.
The Senegalese are notable, Smith suggests, both in their capacity for movement and in their multifaceted approach to language. She finds that, although the emigrants she interviews express complicated relationships to the multiple languages they speak and the places they inhabit, they also convey pleasure in both travel and language. Offering a mix of poignant, funny, reflexive, introspective, and witty stories, they blur the lines between the utility and pleasure of language, allowing a more nuanced understanding of why and how Senegalese move.
About the Author
Maya Angela Smith is an associate professor of French and Italian studies at the University of Washington.
"A groundbreaking interdisciplinary book that breathes fresh air into the study of migration, which has been dominated by economic perspectives. It brings together migration studies, the practice of strategic multilingualism, and racialized identity formation." —Cilas Kemedjio, University of Rochester
"The wonderful story told here about the Senegalese diaspora in three cities of different languages is one that will be of interest to all Africanists and postcolonial critics regardless of discipline." —Jarrod Hayes, author of Queer Roots for the Diaspora: Ghosts in the Family Tree
“An outstanding work of original scholarship.”—Midwest Book Review