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The Rhizome of Blackness

A Critical Ethnography of Hip-Hop Culture, Language, Identity, and the Politics of Becoming

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Ibrahim Awad and Awad Ibrahim

The Rhizome of Blackness is a critical ethnographic documentation of the process of how continental African youth are becoming Black in North America. They enter a «social imaginary» where they find themselves already falling under the umbrella of Blackness. For young Africans, Hip-Hop culture, language, and identity emerge as significant sites of identification; desire; and cultural, linguistic, and identity investment. No longer is «plain Canadian English» a site of investment, but instead, Black English as a second language (BESL) and «Hip-Hop all da way baby!» (as one student put it). The result of this dialectic space between language learning and identity investment is a complex, multilayered, and «rhizomatic third space,» where Canada meets and rubs shoulders with Africa in downtown Toronto, Vancouver, or Montreal in such a way that it produces its own «ticklish subject» and pedagogy of imaginary and integrative anti-racism.
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Awad Ibrahim is a Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa. He is a curriculum theorist with special interests in cultural studies; Hip-Hop; youth and Black popular culture; social foundations (i.e., philosophy, history and sociology of education); social justice and community service learning; diasporic and continental African identities; ethnography; and applied linguistics. He has researched and published widely in these areas. Among his books are Global Linguistic Flows: Hip-Hop Cultures, Youth Identities and the Politics of Language (2009; with Samy Alim and Alastair Pennycook); Critical Youth Studies: A Reader (Peter Lang, 2014; with Shirley Steinberg); Provoking Curriculum Studies: Strong Poetry and the Arts of the Possible (forthcoming; with Nicholas Ng-A-Fook and Giuliano Reis); and The Education of African Canadian Children: Critical Analyses (forthcoming; with Ali Abdi).

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