Skip to content Skip to navigation

Faculty members

Alim, H. Samy

H. Samy Alim
H. Samy Alim
Academic Title 
Other Titles 

Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics (by courtesy)
Institute for Diversity in the Arts, Director

Contact Information
Program Affiliations 
SHIPS (PhD): Anthropology of Education
SHIPS (PhD): Educational Linguistics
SHIPS (PhD): Race, Inequality, and Language in Education (RILE)
SHIPS (PhD): Social Sciences in Education
Anthropology and Education
Cultural Studies
Literacy and Culture
Race, Inequality, and Language in Education (RILE)
Urban Education

Continuing ethnography of race, ethnicity, language, education and power in "Sunnyside," a 2.5 square mile working class city of approximately 33,000 people, predominantly Black and Latino, with a significant population of Pacific Islanders.

Continuing ethnographic studies of the performance of race and ethnicity in various contexts, from freestyle rap battles in the streets to school classrooms and playgrounds, focusing on style and stylization in interaction. Particularly interested in the intersection of race and gender, class, sexuality, etc., and how youth construct their identities in and out of school with language that highlights these intersections.

H. Samy Alim is an Associate Professor in the Social Sciences, Humanities, and Interdisciplinary Policy Studies in Education (SHIPS) program faculty in Educational Linguistics and holds by courtesy appointments in Anthropology and Linguistics. His goal is to illuminate the relationships between language, race and ethnicity across a wide range of social, cultural and educational contexts. 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 develops this knowledge with the twin goals of understanding how youth make sense of their social worlds and communities and helping them do so by impacting teacher preparation, pedagogy and policy. He has an interest in language, literacy, and youth culture, particularly Hip Hop Culture, and critical language awareness for socially marginalized and linguistically profiled populations.

"The irony is that even as some teachers spend an inordinate amount of time 'focusing on English grammar,' and as some social theorists spend an equally inordinate amount of time on macrophenomena, our students are busy takin English to a whole nother level; that is, “grammaticalizing” it... In order to keep it real with our students, we need to recognize that the full body of available research on language, its structure, its use, and its role in constructing identities and mediating intergroup relations, is not produced solely for the consumption of scholars. Rather, this knowledge can be used to develop pedagogies that create high levels of metalinguistic awareness through reflexive ethnographic and sociolinguistic analyses of speech. In this way, Critical Hip Hop Language Pedagogies operationalize the vast body of research on language for the purposes of raising the linguistic and social consciousness of all students."

("Creating 'an empire within an empire': Critical Hip Hop Language Pedagogies and the Role of Sociolinguistics" in Alim, Ibrahim and Pennycook, eds., "Global Linguistic Flows: Hip Hop Cultures, Youth Identities, and the Politics of Language" - Routledge, 2009).

  • PhD, Educational Linguistics, Stanford University (2003)
  • MA, Linguistics, Stanford University (2002)
  • BA, African Languages and Linguistics; Biological Basis of Behavior, University of Pennsylvania, (1999)

2006-2009: Assistant Professor at UCLA, Department of Anthropology

2009: Associate Professor at UCLA, Department of Anthropology

Alim, H. Samy, Awad Ibrahim & Alastair Pennycook. (eds.) 2009. Global Linguistic Flows: Hip Hop Cultures, Youth Identities, and the Politics of Language. London & New York: Routledge.

Alim, H. Samy and John Baugh. (eds.) 2007. Talkin Black Talk: Language, Education and Social Change. New York: Teachers College Press, Columbia University. 176 pgs.

Alim, H. Samy. 2006. Roc the Mic Right: The Language of Hip Hop Culture. London & New York: Routledge, 208 pgs.

Spady, James G., H. Samy Alim and Samir Meghelli. 2006. Tha Global Cipha: Hip Hop Culture and Consciousness. Philadelphia, PA: Black History Museum, 704 pgs.

Alim, H. Samy. 2004. You Know My Steez: An Ethnographic and Sociolinguistic Study of Styleshifting in a Black American Speech Community. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press, 303 pgs.