Gwen Tia Monica Samuel

Thesis title:

Grime and University: Language and the Negotiation of Black Cultural Alignment among British University Students


There has been a great deal of recent interest in increasing the participation of Black people in higher education, and the intervention of high-profile grime artists has intensified this (e.g. the Stormzy scholarships at Cambridge, Big Narstie’s talks on grime music and mental health at universities across the UK). Grime is itself hugely important as a cultural formation for young British Black people, and its spread beyond the original inner-city sites of its production has meant that for young Black and mixed-race people in non-urban and/or mainly white areas, grime has become a major source of learning about the meanings of Blackness. But at the same time, the socialisation and the models of personhood that grime offers can contrast sharply with the mainstream cultural socialisation provided at university. Figures like Stormzy, Big Narstie and Akala seek to draw grime and Higher Education closer, and in the US, Hip Hop studies is well-established in university curricula. But in the unspectacular practices of everyday university life in the UK, how do young people themselves actually negotiate the relationship between these two formations and the subjectivities they promote? My project will approach this question with interactional sociolinguistics and linguistic ethnography, and it is motivated by my own experience and development as a non-urban, mixed-race person navigating the potentially conflicting meanings of grime and university.

First supervisor:

Ben Rampton


7-Linguistics, Media & Culture