Sam A. Mchombo

Research Expertise and Interest

rights and social justice in African education

Research Description

Sam Mchombo has been on the faculty of the Department of African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley since January 2010. Since then his research interests have extended to issues of rights and social justice in African education. He has focused on the promotion of the use of African languages as languages of instruction, and the inclusion of African knowledge systems in the curricula of African education, addressing the issue of politics of language choice in African schools. His work is intended to contribute to the resurgence of the African renaissance, to the decolonization of education, the restoration of rights and social justice in African education. His recent publications in this area include ‘Politics of Language Choice in African Education: The case of Kenya and Malawi’, International Relations and Diplomacy Volume 5 Number 4, 2017; ‘Linguistic Rights and Conceptual Incarceration in African Education’, Alternation, Interdisciplinary Journal for the Study of the Arts and Humanities and 24.2 (2017); ‘Language Scientific Knowledge and the ‘Context of Learning’ in African Education’, in Human Rights in Language and STEM Education (ed. Zehlia Babaci-Wilhite, 2016); ‘Language, Learning, and Education for All in African Education’, in Giving Space to African Voices (ed. Zehlia Babaci-Wilhite, 20140; The Use of African Languages and the Context of Learning (with Zehlia Babaci-Wilhite), Current Studies in Comparative Education, Science and Technology, Vol. 3, No. 2, 2016; Language and the contextualization of Education in Africa, Russian-American Education Forum-An Online Journal, 2014“African Renaissance”: Reconsidering the Values of Traditional Approaches to Education in Post-colonial Rwanda (with Pui Ki Patricia Kwok), presented at the British Association for International and Comparative Education conference, University of York, September 12-14, 2018 (to appear); Decolonizing African Linguistics: Revisiting the Paradigm from Bantu Perspective, Special presentation at Workshop on Mabia Languages at the University of Vienna, July 5, 2018 (to appear); Verbal Arts as Culturally Relevant Pedagogical Tools in Math/Science Education (in press).

He received his Ph.D. in Linguistics in 1978 from the University of London (SOAS). He pioneered studies of Chichewa and Linguistics in the University of Malawi (Chancellor College) where he was the first Chair of the (current) Department of African Languages & Linguistics. In 1984 he held appointments as visiting Fulbright scholar in Linguistics at MIT (spring) and at Stanford University (summer). He was appointed post-doctoral fellow in Linguistics at MIT during the fall semester of 1984). From January 1985 he joined the faculty of the Linguistics Program at San José State University teaching courses in Linguistics, primarily, syntax, semantics, Introduction to Linguistics, as well as courses on Computers and Language. He joined the faculty of the Department of Linguistics at the University of California Berkeley in 1988, teaching courses in Linguistics and African languages, specifically Chichewa and Kiswahili. He has held appointments as Visiting Scholar, teaching courses in African Linguistics at the University of Limpopo in South Africa, University of London (SOAS) and at Universidad de Sonora, in Mexico. From 2002 through 2013 he held an appointment as Honorary Professor in the African Studies Program at the University of Hong Kong, teaching courses in African Linguistics, and Kiswahili. He has delivered (invited speaker) conference presentations in many countries including Austria, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, United Kingdom, and he has published articles on sports and development in Malawi, the media in southern Africa, religion and politics in Malawi, democratic transition in Malawi, language and national identity, as well as many papers on African linguistic structure and linguistic theory. He is the author of The Syntax of Chichewa, Cambridge University Press (2004), editor of Theoretical Aspects of Bantu Grammar, CSLI, Stanford (1993), and was guest editor of the journal Linguistic Analysis for a special issue on African Linguistics (1999).

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