CHI Fellowship Introduction: Esther Milu
I am a PhD student in Rhetoric and Writing. My Research interests revolve around language, literacy, cultural and digital rhetorics. Specifically, I am interested in learning how today’s youth are developing translingual and transcultural literacy practices in todays multilingual, multicultural and transnational world. I use hip-hop from the African diaspora as a heuristic to understand how hip-hop culture facilitates the development of transcultural and translingual literacy practices among not only hip-hop artists, but also youth in general. My current focus is Kenya. I am researching how African diasporic cultures and languages particularly from the Caribbean and African American communities have influenced Kenyan hip-hop and the Kenyan youth. I have also been researching about Sheng, a linguistic code spoken by Kenyan youth, and which is also, the main language of composition for Kenyan hip-hop. But given the code’s fluidity and lack of stable grammar, it has received a lot of condemnation from language and literacy educators as well as some members of the Kenyan society. This past summer, I had a research trip to Kenya and established that a number of artists are interested in finding ways of preserving the language because it is the one that gives Kenyan hip-hop its identity. As a cultural rhetorician and literacy educator interested in preserving youth cultures, I want to use the CHI fellowship to begin building a digital archive to preserve Kenyan Hip-hop cultural content and the Kenyan youth language, Sheng.