‘Inshallah, today there will be work’: Senegalese Women Entrepreneurs Constructing Identities through Language Use and Islamic Practice

  • Shartriya Collier


The linkages between religious and economic growth and development have been irrefutably established. Indeed, it is often asserted that the shift from Catholicism, and an accompanying worldview that condemns materialism, to Protestantism served as the foundation for the Industrial Revolution. Likewise, Islam is often viewed as a religion that supports trade and commercial exchange. This study is an ethnographic sojourn that uncovers how a group of Senegalese-American women entrepreneurs construct their identities through language use and Islamic practices. Set within the context of a hair-braiding shop in Philadelphia, this study utilizes in-depth interviews, participant observations, focus groups and other qualitative research data collection methodologies to illustrate the power relations and cultural balancing of identity that characterize this immigrant population.


Field Note Language Policy Immigrant Woman Immigrant Group African Woman 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alexander, N. (1996). LANGTAG and UNISA’s language policy. Panel input prepared for the conference Towards a Language Policy for Unisa, 23 February, Pretoria.Google Scholar
  2. Bourdieu, P. (1991). Language and symbolic power. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bureau of the Census. (2000). Highest-ranking countries of birth of US foreign-born populations. United States.Google Scholar
  4. Carliner, G. (2000). The language ability of US immigrants: Assimilation and cohort effects. International Migration Review 34(1), 158–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Davies, B., Harre, R. (1990). Positioning: The discursive production of selves. Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior 20, 43–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dodoo, F. (1997). Assimilation difference among Africans in America. Social Forces 76(2), 527–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Donaldson, L. E., and Kwok, P. (2002). Post-colonialism, feminism, and religious discourse. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Fairclough, N. (1995). Critical discourse analysis: The critical study of language. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  9. Goldstein, T. (2001). Researching women’s language practices in multilingual workplaces. In: A. Pavlenko et al. (Eds). Multilingualism, Second Language Learning, and Gender. Germany: Mouton De Gruyter.Google Scholar
  10. Heller, M., and Martin-Jones M. (Eds). (2001). Voices of authority: Education and linguistic difference. Westport, CT: Ablex.Google Scholar
  11. Henry, A. (1988). Taking back control: African Canadian women teachers’ lives and practice. New York: New York Press.Google Scholar
  12. Hoffman, E. (1989). Lost in translation: A life in a new language. New York: Dutton.Google Scholar
  13. Holmes, J., and Meyerhoff, M. (Eds). (2003). The handbook of language and gender. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  14. Holmes, J., and Stubbe, M. (2003). ‘Feminine’ workplaces: Stereotype and reality. In: J. Holmes and M. Meyerhoff (Eds), Handbook of language and gender. Oxford: Blackwell (pp. 573–99).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hymes, D. (1972). Foundations in sociolinguistics: An ethnographic approach. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  16. Jackson, M. (2004). Islam in Senegal. The Mouride Brotherhood. Retrieved from Scholar
  17. Joy, M., and Dargyay, E. K. (1995). Gender, genre and religion: Feminist reflections. Ontario: Wilfred Laurier University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Kainola, M. A. (1982). Making changes: Employment orientation for immigrant women. Canada: Cross-Cultural Communication Centre.Google Scholar
  19. Kerswill, P. (1996). Children, adolescents, and language change. Language Variation and Change 8(2), 177–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kouritzin, S. (2000). Immigrant mothers redefine access to ESL classes. Journal of Multilingual Contradiction, Ambivalence and Multicultural Development 21(1), 14–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Koven, M. (1998). Two languages in the self/the self in two languages: French-Portuguese bilinguals’ verbal enactments and experiences of self in narrative discourse. Ethos 26(4), 410–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. McKay, S., and Wong, E (1996). Multiple discourses, multiple Identities: Investment and agency in second language learning among Chinese adolescent immigrant students. Harvard Educational Review 3, 577–608.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. McGroaty, M. (1996). Language attitudes, motivation, and standards. In: S. L. Mckay and N. H. Hornberger (Eds), Sociolinguistics and language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Morrow, N. (1997). Language and identity: Women’s autobiographies of the American immigrant experience. Language and Communication 17(3), 177–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. NorKunas, M. (1999). Women, work, and ethnic identity: Personal narratives and the ethnic enclave in the textile city of Lowell, Massachusetts. Journal of Ethnic Studies 15(3), 145–78.Google Scholar
  26. Norton Pierce, B. (1995). Social identity, investment, and language learning. TESOL Quarterly 29(1), 9–31.Google Scholar
  27. Norton Pierce, B. (2000). Identity and language learning: Gender, ethnicity, and educational change. Singapore: Pearson ED.Google Scholar
  28. Ochs, E. (1992). Indexing gender. In: A. Duranti and C. Goodwin (Eds). Rethinking context Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (pp. 335–58).Google Scholar
  29. Pavlenko, A. (2001). Bilingualism, gender and ideology. The International Journal of Bilingualism 5(2), 1176–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pennycook, A. (2001). Critical applied linguistics. A critical introduction. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  31. Rampton, B. (1995). Crossing: Language and ethnicity amongadolescents. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  32. Siegel, M. (1999). Some observations of education and English teaching in Senegal. TESOL Matters 9(2) Retrieved 7, Dec. 2002 from Scholar
  33. Spolsky, B. (2000). Language motivation revisited. Applied Linguistics 21(2), 157–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Swigart, L. (2002). Extending lives: The African immigrant experience in Philadelphia. Philadelphia, PA: The Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies.Google Scholar
  35. Tabouret-Keller, A. (1997). Language and identity. In: F. Coulmans (Ed.), Handbook of sociolinguistics. Oxford: Blackwell (pp. 315–26).Google Scholar
  36. Tannen, D. (1994). Talking from 9 to 5. Women and men in the workplace: Language, sex, and power. New York: William Morrow.Google Scholar
  37. United Nations. (1999). Estimated illiteracy rates in selected countries.Google Scholar
  38. US Immigration and Naturalization Service. (2000). Statistical yearbook.Google Scholar
  39. Wagner, Stephen J. (1981). America’s non-English heritage. Society 1(2), 13–35.Google Scholar
  40. Weedon, C. (1987). Feminist practice and postrucuralist theory. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  41. Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning meaning and identity. Cambridge: University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wong, F. (1991). When learning a second language means losing your first. Early Childhood Research Quarterly 6, 323–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Shartriya Collier 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shartriya Collier

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations