About

Kendra Calhoun, Ph.D. (she/her)

University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow

Department of Anthropology, UCLA

I’m an interdisciplinary sociocultural linguist with a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of California, Santa Barbara. I earned my B.A. in English Language & Literature and Experimental Psychology from the University of South Carolina (go Gamecocks!).

As a qualitative researcher, I critically analyze the intersections of language, identity, and power in face-to-face and mediated contexts. I examine race, gender, humor, activism, social media discourse, and institutional discourses in higher education, and I am particularly focused on the language, culture, and experiences of Black people in the U.S. I bring together theories and methods from fields including sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, discourse studies, media studies, sociology, education, and Black Studies. My postdoctoral research is a linguistic-anthropological study of the documentation of Black language and culture on TikTok.

I’m passionate about teaching, mentorship, and equity in higher education, and I’ve integrated them with my research throughout my academic career. In addition to teaching at multiple Minority Serving Institutions, I’ve contributed to multiple community-based collaborative projects.

Upcoming talks

“Sounds of Blackness: African American Language and expanding representations of Blackness on Black TikTok.” Association of Internet Researchers, November 2022

“Linguists’ reflections on responses to the ‘racial reckoning’ of 2020 in U.S. higher education: A collective conversation on lessons learned and next steps.” Organized session with Joyhanna Yoo Garza (Harvard), Jamaal Muwwakkil (UC Santa Barbara), Savithry Namboodiripad (University of Michigan), and Rachel Weissler (University of Oregon). Linguistic Society of America, January 2023

“A mixed-methods examination of Black language pedagogy & how linguistic practices shape Black faculty experiences.” with Joy Peltier, Quentin Sedlacek, Kara Seidel, Anne Charity Hudley, and Christine Mallinson.. American Dialect Society, January 2023


Recent news and highlights

Quoted on linguistic self-censorship on TikTok in a recent Mashable article on content moderation

Discussed “Karen,” Black culture, and language and race online on the WPFL Race Unwrapped podcast: “A Karen by any other name still Karens”

My lead-author paper “Attracting Black Students to Linguistics Through a Black-Centered Introduction to Linguistics Course” was awarded Best Paper in Language for 2021