Rachel Reynolds, PhD
Director, PhD Graduate Programs; Associate Professor of Communication
Office: PSA 217
Website(s): Childhood & Migration book
- BA, Comparative Literature (Italian), University of Iowa, 1991
- MA, Anthropology, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1997
- PhD, English and Linguistics, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2002
Research and Teaching Interests
- Sociolinguistics, Ethnography of Communication and Discourse Analysis
- Communication and Information Seeking (especially among Youth in West and Central African Contexts, including Nigeria and Cameroon)
- Brain Drain, Immigrants and Transnational Immigration
- Semiotics and Pragmatics
- Teaching and Learning in Central African Universities, Cameroon, Fulbright Scholar 2010-2011.
- Co-founder, 2005-2011, the Working Group on Childhood and Migration. Included projects funded by National Science Foundation, and by the Wenner-Gren Foundation.
- Interview and Survey Research on Heritage Language Learners at Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania. 2005-2006.
- Ethnographic research on intercultural communications and neighborhood relations between immigrants and native born, Philadelphia, PA 2003.
- Member of an immigrants’ group for first generation Igbo immigrants to the United States, Chicago, IL 1996-2002.
I grew up in Chicago, which has long been an immigrant-receiving city. From the get go, I have been interested in international foods, communicating across cultures and learning languages, born out through lifelong dabbling in Spanish, German, French and Italian. As a 21 year old, I ran off to Italy to find myself immersed in other immigrant communities, especially among Eritreans, Ethiopians and Egyptians who came to Rome in the late 80s. That is when I decided to learn more about what motivates emigration, settlement and return. Upon my return to Chicago in 1991, I worked for an immigrant settlement agency and lived in the Pilsen neighborhood where I used my Spanish a lot. Eventually, however, I learned about World Englishes through a fascination with brain drain and Nigerian immigration and did my PhD in English linguistics.
As a Fulbright Scholar in 2010-11, I was a visiting professor in Yaoundé, Cameroon, in Central Africa, where I learned about migration and language shift, and I studied obstacles for study abroad ambitions among both English and French-speaking Central African students. In general, I work on understanding what migration means to young people and families, how immigration and immigrants are represented in the media, and how people find, generate and share information about migration as a lived experience of globalization. Ideationally, I look at the political economy of development by asking what does migration do for people and to people.
Theoretically speaking, my background and teaching include elements of comparative media studies (how is African media different than American media and why?), comparative rhetoric (how does persuasion work in different cultures?), intercultural communication (especially stereotyping and its effects on ethnicization of Africans, African-Americans, Asians, and Latinos), information seeking and media convergence, problems of digital divide, and multilingual studies.
- Reynolds, R. R. Toward Understanding a Culture of Migration among Elite African Youth: Igbo College Students in the United States. In Kane, A. and Leedy, T. Migrations In and Out of Africa: Old Patterns and New Perspectives. Indiana University Press. 2012.
- Everyday Ruptures: Children and Migration in Global Perspective. Cati Coe, Debbie Boehm, Julia Meredith Hess, Heather Rae Espinoza and Rachel R. Reynolds (Eds.). Vanderbilt University Press, 2011.
- Heritage Language Learners in First-Year Foreign Language Courses: A Report of General Data Across Learner Subtypes. Rachel R. Reynolds, Kathryn Howard, and Julia Deak. Foreign Language Annals, Volume 42, No. 2, Summer 2009.
- Igbo professional migratory orders, hometown associations and ethnicity in the USA. Global Networks. Volume 9(2): 209-226, April 2009.