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Maisa C. Taha is associate professor in the Department of Anthropology and a faculty contributor to the minor in Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS). She is a linguistic and cultural anthropologist who is fascinated by the many and multifaceted 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. Professor Taha's long-term research in southeast Spain examines how North African immigrant youth and their Spanish peers interact across ethnic and linguistic differences in a region of increasing nativist sentiment. Currently, she is collaborating with fellow CHSS faculty as well as scholars and leaders from New Jersey's state-recognized tribes to build MSU's capacity to support Indigenous language reclamation curriculum and programming.
Professor 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).
Since 2021, Professor Taha has worked with Prof. Elsa Davidson to lead a series of student-focused workshops, "Careers in Anthro." The approach is personalized and interactive, allowing students time for open discussion and proactive strategizing to apply strengths and skills from anthropology to the professional world. These workshops are ongoing.
Professor Taha's 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).
Professor Taha's research has been published in Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Palgrave Communications, Anthropology Now, Annals of Anthropological Practice, and a special issue of Hesperis-Tamuda, Morocco's oldest academic journal.
- 11:30 am - 12:30 pm
- 11:30 am - 12:30 pm