Biography

I joined Roehampton University in 2000 after periods at Thames Valley University (now University of West London 1999), Trinity College Dublin (1998), National Institute of Education, Singapore (1994 - 1997) and University of Lagos (1986-1994). I was appointed professor of Sociolinguistics in 2007 and assumed directorship of the Centre for Research in English Language and Linguistics in 2010.

I have two areas of research interest:

1.Language policies, practices and development issues in sub-Saharan Africa. In this I explore the politics of colonial and indigenous languages and their roles and statuses in the development project.

2. Language and identity, with a focus on popular culture - African hip-hop and youth identity, Nollywood and the African diaspora

I shall welcome prospective doctoral students wishing to explore topics related to the above with a focus on language practice, identity and culture flow. This scholarship is underpinned by a number of assumptions that are contested and therefore open to investigation. Performance of identity (social, regional, religious, gender, ethnic, race, professional, national, mixed, etc.) (re)defines human social actions, interactions and existence. The research questions that these can generate are varied.

My general interest is in the mobility of popular culture (music, films, fashion, religion, etc) within global networks and the linguistic resources and strategies that are mobilised to engender that flow. I am specifically interested in the manner in which such flow is explored and exploited as a tool for transnational and translocal connections between homelands and their diasporas, inter-homeland, inter-diaspora, between margins and new cosmopolitan centres, and the attendant politics of language and identity.

I am captivated by the relationships between various agencies (individual social actors, socially constitutive/constituted groups or communities, and institutions/governments), and the manner in which these relationships are tempered by the dynamics of flow to set up multiple centres and regimes. Beyond mere entertainment, the sociolinguistics of identity in global popular culture enables us to question orthodoxy, ownership, authenticity, language/linguistic capital, voice, youth, hybridity, centre, borderlands, scales, hierarchy and so on.

Like everyone else, I have multiple lives. In another life I am a poet with a published volume to my name and a couple of manuscripts awaiting publication. My work has also appeared in poetry magazines/journals and anthologies in Singapore, the USA, the UK, South Africa, Norway and Nigeria. I do some closet short story writing and scriptwriting.

You can read some of my work here:

Research interests

I was appointed to the Chair of Sociolinguistics in 2007 and I am the director of the Centre for Research in English Language and Linguistics which is home to our doctoral research students and visiting scholars. The Centre runs regular seminars and guest speakers are welcome from the Academy, both local and global.

I have diverse research interests which to date have been determined by, or been in response to, circumstances in which I find myself on my academic journeys. This diversity is reflected in the range of work that I have undertaken and/or published so far.

Research projects

Broadly, I have published in the areas of borderland sociolinguistics, language policies, politics and education, language and identity, language and popular culture especially hip-hop and Nollywood films, and World Englishes.

With reference to regions, I have undertaken and published research on the Nigeria-Benin, Singapore - Malaysia and the Nigeria - Cameroon borderlands. I have done some investigation of refugee and immigrant communities in Dublin (1997-1998) and West London (1999). I have recently developed interest in abstract notions of borders and e-borderlands by investigating identity in translocal, diasporic, and virtual communities as well as identities constructed by West African rap and hip-hop artistes.

Since 2002, I have been part of an international research network on globalization, identity politics and social conflicts (GIPSC). Currently, my collaboration with the Open University's Ferguson Centre for Asian and African Studies is on the Nollywood and African Diaspora Project. I coordinate an international research network on EU accession and identity, as well as an international network on the sociology of language and religion.

Prospective research students

As my publications show, my research has covered broad areas of sociolinguistics, applied linguistics and the sociology of language and religion. I shall welcome applications from research students wishing to investigate topics in aspects of Sub-Sahara African language policy and development, language and identity especially of youth, hip-hop cultural identity, media (including film, music) and Black and African diasporic identities and translocality, hybridity, borderlands, and the sociology of language and religion. I shall however be delighted to co-supervise research students interested in interdisciplinary research that involves discourses of identity.

Professional affiliations

  • Member, International Advisory Board of the Centre for Multiple Languages and Literacies, Teachers College Columbia - since 2004.
  • Member, editorial board, Lagos Review of English Studies (Department of English, University of Lagos, Nigeria) - since 2005.
  • Member, editorial board of Sociolinguistic Studies - appointed 2006.
  • Member, editorial board of the Journal of Language, Education and Identity from 2007.
  • Member, editorial board of the International Journal of the Sociology of Language for 5 years from 2009.
  • Member, Arts and Humanities Research Council Peer Review College from January 2010.
  • Reviewer for the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (Canada).
  • Appointed Ferguson Fellow, Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies, Open University, Milton Keynes, October 2006.
  • Executive Committee of the British Association for Applied Linguistics, September 2006 - 2008.
  • International Consultant, Religious Ideologies and Literacy Practices Project [1.1.2009 - 31.12.2011] National Institute of Education, Singapore [NIE ACRF REF R1/ 5/08 CGL]

Teaching

I have held teaching positions in Africa, Asia and Europe over the last quarter of a century. However, my academic home since February 2000 has been on the English Language and Linguistics Programme at Roehampton where I teach these undergraduate modules: Language Issues in Multilingual Settings, Language in the Media, Child Discourse, Discourse and Conversation Analysis. I convene the Master of Research in Sociolinguistics and the MA in Applied Linguistics programmes as well as coordinate the MPhil/PhD programme.

Research outputs

  1. Digital evangelism: Varieties of English in unexpected places

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  2. The man from Africa is on his way: Styling in Nollywood Films

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Indigenous language capital and development

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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