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Language, Globalization and the Making of a Tanzanian Beauty Queen Author: Sabrina Billings

Paperback - 232 pages
29 Nov 2013
Multilingual Matters
210 x 148


Through micro-analysis of language use, this book chronicles young women's pathways to becoming a Tanzanian beauty queen, offering an original perspective on the intersection of language with globalization, nationalism, and inequality in urban East Africa. This compelling linguistic ethnography considers the real-life effects, both on- and off-stage, of language policy, education, and gender dynamics for the women competing in the pageants. While highlighting many contestants' struggles for escape from poverty and patriarchy, the book also emphasizes their creative strategies – linguistic and otherwise – for bettering their lives and shows how people living in a global economic periphery take part in, and sometimes feel left out of, the wider world.


It is an excellent book, a coherent and well structured ethnography punctuated with many outstanding arguments, with reach across and between several disciplines. In a very simple way, though, it is the ‘accessibility’ and ‘clarity’ of this book that is its greatest strength, and the expert balance between the professional, or the academic, and the personal. Overall, this book is an excellent micro-analysis of language in and around Tanzanian beauty pageants, revealing the links and conflicts between discourses of structural inequality, education, urbanisation and urbanity, gender relations, and the divides between cosmopolitan centres and the global periphery. It is a pleasure to read, both for its content and for the quality of the writing, and should be read and enjoyed by many.

- on the LINGUIST List 26.1085
- Joseph V Comer, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University, Australia

Author Biography:

Sabrina Billings is an Assistant Professor of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at the University of Arkansas, USA. Her research explores the interconnections of language with gender, education, globalization, and opportunity, especially in urban East Africa.

Readership Level:

Postgraduate, Research / Professional, Undergraduate

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