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Maisa Taha

About Maisa Taha

Maisa Taha is a post-doctoral lecturer and researcher in linguistic and applied anthropology. Her work examines the historic and contemporary uses of "conviviality" discourses in multicultural Spain. Her dissertation, titled "Cultivating Convivencia: Youth and Democratic Education in Southeast Spain," used ethnographic and linguistic data from three secondary schools in the Spanish municipality of El Ejido (Almeria) to argue that state-mandated civic education classes--where convivencia, or conviviality, is explicitly pursued as a topic of study and model for intercultural living--constitute culturally normative spaces that complicate social inclusion and interactional parity for minority immigrant students. Focusing on the experiences of Moroccan youth in these educational spaces, the dissertation highlights how pedagogical emphasis on gender equality, racial parity, and human rights gets used by Spanish teachers and students to "other" members of the dominant local Moroccan community. The dissertation builds on historical analyses of convivencia as a discourse of moral progress and links its popularity to moments of national crisis. Using fine-grained analysis of classroom discourse, and expanding the analytic purchase of linguistic anthropological "stance," hegemonic notions of conviviality are constructed, upheld, and contested in a multi-modal communicative and temporal context. Ultimately, its fiercest critics are Moroccan and Spanish youth themselves, who, for quite different reasons, find that such lessons ring hollow in their everyday lives. Research and writing for this study was generously funded by an NSF DDIG (BCS-1061649) and an NAEd/Spencer Foundation Dissertation Writing Grant.
At the UA, Dr. Taha teaches ANTH 150a: Race, Ethnicity, and the American Dream, ANTH 276: The Nature of Language, and ANTH 303: Gender and Language. She also leads a team of undergraduate and post-baccalaureate researchers through the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology in participatory-based field research. This project focuses on program assessment for Owl & Panther: Expressive Arts for Refugee Families, an organization that has operated in Tucson for nearly 20 years.

Selected Publications

In preparation "Cultivating convivencia: Progressive stancetaking and gender equality in Spanish democratic education."

2013    The Pitfalls of Democracy and Debate: Authority and Inequality in Classrooms in Southeast Spain. Crossroads of Language, Interaction, and Culture 9(1), 29-54.

2013    Book review. Arab Women in Arab Media: Old Stereotypes and New Media (Al-Malki et al., 2012), Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 9(3), 145-148.

2012    Indignad@s El Ejido: Lessons of Locality in the Struggle for Global Solidarity. Connections: European Studies Annual Review 8, 50-57.

2010    The hijab north of Gibraltar: Moroccan women as objects of civic and social transformation. The Journal of North African Studies, 15(4), 465-80.

2008    Castro’s shifters: Locating variation in political discourse. (With Brendan O’Connor and Megan Sheehan). Penn Working Papers in Linguistics 14(2), 119-29.


Courses Taught

The University of Arizona

ANTH276: The Nature of Language

ANTH314: Race and Language in the U.S.

ANTH395B: Language and Youth Culture (Online)

INDV101: Race, Ethnicity, and the American Dream

INDV102: The Ecology of Language in Global Perspective

SPAN101: Elementary Spanish

SPAN102: Elementary Spanish (second-semester placement)

Louisiana State University Academic Programs Abroad (Granada, Spain)

SPAN3070: Spanish for Professionals

SPAN3073: Advanced Readings on Spanish Civilization

University of Iowa

SPAN1502: Intermediate Spanish II

SPAN3350: Contemporary Spanish American Literature

Areas of Study


Language & Power

Political discourse



2014-present Participatory Assessment, Owl & Panther: Expressive Arts for Refugee Families (Tucson, AZ)

2011-2013 Smallholder Production Cooperatives and Socio-economic Change in Latin America, M. Vásquez-León, B. Burke, and T. J. Finan (Eds). The University of Arizona Press. 

2012-2013  O’odham Pee-Posh Documentary History Project (Office of Ethno-historical Research, Arizona State Museum)

2012  Studies of the United States Institute (BARA/College of Education)

Research Interests

Conviviality, Democracy, Education, Ethnographic Discourse Analysis, Europe, Gender, Immigration, North Africa, Mediterannean region, Modernity & Late-Modernity, Multiculturalism, Multilingualism, Political Anthropology, Spain, Race and Racism, Research Methods

Maisa Taha's picture

Contact Information

Post-doctoral Research Associate
Office: Haury 310A


PhD (2014) Linguistic Anthropology - The University of Arizona

MA (2002) Spanish - University of Iowa

BA (1997) Spanish & History - Illinois Wesleyan University

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