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Maisa Taha

Associate Professor, Anthropology

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Maisa C. Taha (she/her) is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Co-Director of Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS). With CHSS colleagues and Indigenous community leaders, she focuses on building Montclair's capacity to support Indigenous language awareness among the public and reclamation among New Jersey's state-recognized tribes. In partnership with a Munsee language teacher, students in her classes and in the NAIS Summer Field School make ongoing contributions to an open-access digital repository of learning materials (under continual construction):

In the Anthropology Department, Prof. Taha co-founded in 2021 The Futures Project with Prof. Elsa Davidson. This workshop series focuses on network- and community-building, professional development, and life and career aspirations for Anthro majors in their junior and senior years. The small group, personalized approach is designed to allow students time for proactive strategizing about how to apply knowledge and skills from anthropology to the professional world.

As a linguistic and cultural anthropologist, Prof. Taha's community engagement, campus leadership, teaching, and research revolve around the many ways that language shapes how humans understand and inhabit the world. She works in academic and applied domains to promote greater understanding of language as a resource for knowledge, identity, problem-solving, and cultural and ecological resiliency.

Prof. Taha enjoys mentoring students on research projects related to language, communication, power, and identity. She has sponsored a number of independent Bigel projects, including those by Calli Feehan ("Migrant Miles: Volunteer Voices on the U.S.-Mexico Border," 2019), James Sanchez ("Capital and Community: A study of Silence and Interaction in Zen Buddhist Centers in New York," 2019), and Leanna Sanchez ("Untapped Resources, Unsung Soul: A Pilot Project on Language Capacities & Needs in Hudson County," 2022). During remote learning in Spring 2021, Professor Taha worked with a team of Bigel researchers who used auto-ethnography, interviews, and field notes to document their experiences of the pandemic and public responses to racial injustice in the U.S.: Gillian Collas, David Fleitas-Guillen, Kenneth Martinez, and Lucy Thoroman. Leanna Sanchez and Jaileen Murillo both additionally worked with Professor Taha on projects funded by the CHSS Dean's Initiative for Student Research (summer 2022).

Prof. Taha's long-term research in southeast Spain examined how North African immigrant and Spanish youth interact across ethnic and linguistic differences in a region of increasing nativist sentiment. Her earlier projects have included examining the digital communication strategies and smartphone uses of Middle Eastern refugees resettled in northern NJ (with Prof. Kate McCaffrey, 2017-18); leading a team-based program assessment of Owl & Panther, a decades-old refugee and asylee expressive arts program in Tucson, Arizona (2014-15); and doing participant observation with young Muslim American women to understand how their linguistic and generational identities created unique pressures/expectations as representatives of Islam in post-9/11 U.S. (2007-08).

Prof. Taha's research has been published in Anthropologica, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Palgrave Communications, Annals of Anthropological Practice, and a special issue of Hesperis-Tamuda, Morocco's oldest academic journal.


Linguistic Anthropology; Cultural Anthropology; Language and Identity; Language Ideologies; Community Engaged Teaching; Language Revitalization (emerging specialization)