Professor Quentin Williams

Professor Quentin Williams is Director of the Centre for Multilingualism and Diversities Research (CMDR) and an Associate Professor of Sociolinguistics in the Linguistics Department at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). He is also the Ghent Visiting Professor (Leerstoel Houer) at the Centre for Afrikaans and the study of South Africa at Ghent University (Belgium) (2020/2021).

He has published journal articles, book chapters and Op-Ed pieces on the performance and practice of multilingualism, race, Hip Hop, language activism, Afrikaaps, and linguistic citizenship in South Africa.He is Co-editor of the journal Multilingual Margins: a journal of Multilingualism from the periphery, and his most recent book is Neva Again: Hip Hop Art, Activism and Education in post-apartheid South Africa (HSRC Press, 2019, with Adam Haupt, H Samy Alim and Emile YX?). He is also author of Making Sense of People and Place in Linguistic Landscapes (Bloomsbury, 2018, with Amiena Peck and Christopher Stroud) and Remix Multilingualism (Bloomsbury Press, 2017).

“For decades, Hip Hop culture has redefined the sonic landscape, musical genres, pop culture and identity politics. Hip Hop has come to define not only what it means to be cool -the clothes we wear, the cars we drive and the beverages we drink. It’s even in our activism. Hip Hop has provided a form of rear-guard activism in South Africa, from helping to fight apartheid to expressing struggles against poverty, drugs and worse.”

Quentin Williams, the eldest of four boys, grew up in Bishop Lavis. He never thought he would enrol at a university because his family could not afford it. And he never imagined he would leave the working class entrapments of Bishop Lavis. But he did.

Now Williams is a senior lecturer in the Linguistics Department at UWC. He’s a sociocultural linguist working on extending an approach to multilingualism, culture and society, postcolonial pop culture, and linguistic agency in South Africa and beyond. He performs academic research and writes journal articles.

He’s also really into Hip Hop. He’s written articles about it. He’s written books about it. And now he’s joined with three more of South Africa’s foremost Hip Hop scholars to bring about the ultimate collab.

Neva Again: Hip Hop Art, Activism and Education in Post-Apartheid South Africa is the culmination of decades of work on Hip Hop culture and Hip Hop activism in South Africa. Edited by Adam Haupt, Quentin Williams, H Samy Alim & Emile Jansen, it speaks to the emergence and development of a unique style of Hip Hop activism in the Western and Eastern Capes of South Africa.