Dr. Krystal A. Smalls

Dr. Krystal Smalls

Contact Information

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Davenport Hall - Rm 385
607 S. Mathews Ave.
Urbana, IL 61801
Assistant Professor
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Additional Campus Affiliations

Research Interests

  • Linguistic Anthropology, Sociolinguistics, African Diaspora Studies
  • Race, Semiotics, Digital Space, Personhood, Gender, Language Ideology, Discourse, Hip Hop

Research Description

I study the semiosis of race in young people's lives by conducting ethnographic research in different locations of the "African diaspora" (mostly digital or urban). My work specifically concerns the discourses and practices that constitute blackness, antiblackness, and anti-antiblackness.

One of my recent projects concerning digital subjectivity (there are a few) considers how uses of "emphatically black" and "intentionallly black" language and discourse in digital space function as public refusals of antiblack "raciolinguistic ideologies" (Rosa & Flores 2017) and semiotically, may help reconfigure racialized signs in significant ways. 

I've worked extensively with young urbanites in Monrovia, Liberia and Philadelphia, PA in the US, and I'm in the early stages of a new project with my cultural community: the Gullah/Geechee of coastal and insular South Carolina.

Education

  • PhD, University of Pennsylvania (2015)
  • BS, Cornell University (2000)

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Smalls, Krystal A 'We Had Lighter Tongues': Making and Mediating Gullah/Geechee personhood in the South Carolina Lowcountry Language & Communication 32 20 2012. Article.
“Flipping the Script: (Re)constructing Personhood through Hip Hop Languaging in a U.S. High School Working Papers in Educational Linguistics 25 2 2010. Article.
Smalls, Dr. Krystal A FIGHTING WORDS: ANTIBLACKNESS AND DISCURSIVE VIOLENCE IN AN AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOL Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 28 3 2018. AnthroSource.

Book Contributions

Smalls, Krystal A The Proverbial Monkey on Our Backs: Exploring the Politics of Belonging among Transnational African High School Students in the US US Education in a World of Migration edited by Jill Koyama, edited by Mathangi Subramanian. The Proverbial Monkey on Our Backs: Exploring the Politics of Belonging among Transnational African High School Students in the US Edited by Jill Koyama, Edited by Mathangi Subramanian, Routledge 2014. Chapter.
Languages of Liberation: Making Black Lives Matter Through Digital Discourse Language and Social Justice: Case Studies on Communication and the Creation of Just Societies Languages of Liberation: Making Black Lives Matter Through Digital Discourse Routledge 2018.