Stanford Experts

H. Samy Alim

Professor of Anthropology; Faculty Director, Institute for Diversity in the Arts & Committee on Black Performing Arts; director of the Center for Race, Ethnicity and Language and of the Program in African and African American Studies


(650) 723-5086



Alim is an expert on black language, language and politics, language and culture, hip-hop culture, popular culture, youth art, verbal art, urban youth, arts and education, education and social justice, and sociolinguistics. He has a particular interest in language, literacy and youth culture, particularly hip-hop culture, and critical language awareness for socially marginalized and linguistically profiled populations. He seeks to illuminate the relationships between language, race and ethnicity across a wide range of social, cultural and educational contexts. His work aims to understand how youth make sense of their social worlds and communities and help them do so by influencing teacher preparation, pedagogy and policy. His research integrates rigorous linguistic analysis with in-depth, ethnographic engagement in local communities to contribute to theory and methodology in education, sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, and race and ethnic studies. Alim’s books, as author or coauthor, include Articulate While Black: Barack Obama, Language and Race in the U.S. (Oxford University Press, 2012), Global Linguistic Flows: Hip Hop Culture(s), Youth Identities and the Politics of Language (Routledge, 2009), Roc the Mic Right: The Language of Hip Hop Culture (Routledge, 2006), You Know My Steez: An Ethnographic and Sociolinguistic Study of a Black American Speech Community (Duke University Press, 2004), Street Conscious Rap (Black History Museum Press, 1999) and Tha Global Cipha: Hip Hop Culture and Consciousness (Black History Museum, 2006). An affiliate of the university’s Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, he is former editor of Black Arts Quarterly. His research on the anthropology, sociolinguistics and verbal art of hip-hop culture has appeared in a broad range of journals, from American Speech, Journal of English Linguistics, Pragmatics and Journal of Linguistic Anthropology to B’ma: The Sonia Sanchez Literary Review, Callaloo, Souls and Black Arts Quarterly (editor of two special issues on hip-hop culture in the U.S. and international contexts), as well as numerous book chapters. Alim has lectured on global hip-hop cultures in institutions as diverse as the American University in Cairo and Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt to East Palo Alto’s Mural Music and Arts Project and the American University in Beirut.