Welcome! Karibu!

Thank you for visiting my website. I am a PhD candidate in comparative government (comparative politics) in Georgetown University’s Department of Government. My dissertation research examines the development of Kenyan and Tanzanian language policies and their influence on how Kenyans and Tanzanians understand and identify with their nations. Please scroll down or click on the following links to visit my teaching, dissertation research, other research, and CV pages to learn more about my work. I am on the academic job market and looking for positions for the 2021-22 academic year.

Teaching

At Georgetown University, I have worked as a teaching assistant for four semesters (fall 2016 – spring 2018) and led discussion sections for the large, introductory lecture courses in comparative politics and international relations. I was nominated for the Graduate School’s Outstanding TA in the Social Sciences award in 2017. I am committed to excellence in teaching and continue to refine my teaching skills as I work toward the completion of our on-campus Center for New Designs in Research and Learning Teaching’s Apprenticeship in Teaching Program certificate.

I previously taught English to Form I (8th grade) and Form II (9th grade) students at Majengo Secondary School (2011-12) in Moshi, Tanzania.

Language Policy and the Nation in East Africa

My dissertation research examines the development of Kenyan and Tanzanian language policies–the regulations governing the use of different languages in the educational system, legislative debates, broadcast media, political campaigns, and other areas–and their influence on how Kenyans and Tanzanians understand and identify with their nations. In 2019, I carried out qualitative research for 11 months in Kenya and Tanzania, including semi-structured interviews with more than 160 Kenyans and Tanzanians, ethnographic observation, and archival research in Kenya National Archives, the Tanzania National Archives, and other collections. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced me to continue my research. including additional interviews, remotely. I am currently working with in-country research partners to plan a multilingual, phone survey experiment to examine several empirical implications of my qualitative research.

I would like to thank the U.S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, the American Political Science Association, the Georgetown University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Georgetown University Department of Government, the African Studies Association, the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa, the Institute for Humane Studies, and the Cosmos Club Foundation for their support of my dissertation research.

Ongoing Research

I have presented my in-progress research at major research conferences including the annual meetings of the American Political Science Association, African Studies Association, African Studies Association of Africa, the Midwest Political Science Association, and the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa. Copies of the working papers briefly described below are available upon request.

Beyond the National Language: Multilingualism as a Marker of Belonging in Kenya and Tanzania

Based on my dissertation research, my working paper “Beyond the National Language: Multilingualism as a Marker of Belonging in Kenya and Tanzania” examines the evolution of Kiswahili’s status as the sole state-recognized national language in both Kenya and Tanzania and how the persistence of multilingualism challenges the “one nation, one language” nationalist paradigm.

Bible Translation and the Politics of National Cohesion

While conducting dissertation research, I learned that the Kenya and Tanzania Bible Societies would complete the first-ever full translation of the Bible into the Igikuria language, associated with the Abakuria people concentrated along the Kenya-Tanzania border, in 2020. In the working paper “Bible Translation and the Politics of National Cohesion,” I investigate how the politics of contemporary indigenously directed translation efforts differ from those of the colonial missionary translation work and how the differing Kenyan and Tanzanian language policies interact with the Igikuria Bible’s potential political implications.

Soft Power of the Weak?: Elevating Kiswahili in Regional Organizations

Language policy can also be a tool of supranational region-building. The six-member East African Community (EAC) is increasingly promoting Kiswahili, a language spoken by relatively few people in the member states other than Kenya and Tanzania, as the language of regionalism. In my early-stage working paper “Soft Power of the Weak?: Elevating Kiswahili in Regional Organizations,” I examine the longstanding place of Kiswahili promotion within Tanzania’s foreign policy as a form of soft power and how it has contributed to the EAC’s development of its own Kiswahili promotion efforts for region-building as well as to recognition of Kiswahili as an official language of the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Not All Dominoes are Created Equal: Analogical Reasoning and the U.S. Response to the Zanzibar Revolution

My research interests extend beyond the politics of language(s) policy to the related language of politics. My working paper “Not All Dominoes are Created Equal: Analogical Reasoning and the U.S. Response to the Zanzibar Revolution” is a close, archival study of how U.S. diplomats and analysts used the analogy of Zanzibar as an “African Cuba” and the metaphorical logic of the domino theory in making sense of the unexpected 1964 Zanzibar Revolution. The Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation funded my archival research at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas.