Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Published (as Chapter 3) in Angelina Castagno & Teresa McCarty, eds., The Anthropology of Educational Policy (New York: Routledge, 2018), pp 43-61.


Copyright © 2018 Taylor & Francis.


Although Margaret Mead (Hughes, 1952; Mead, 1961), Manuel Gamio (1916), and other leaders of 20th-century anthropology often made pronouncements regarding what schooling should and shouldn't do-in essence proposing to be educational policymakers of a sort-the turn of anthropology to the study of policy and particularly education policy is relatively new (Shore & Wright, 1997). It follows that what an anthropologist of educational policy implementation should do is therefore not yet depicted all that clearly or in detail. The groundbreaking work of Sutton and Levinson (2001) and their contributing authors in some senses stands out as an important exception to that claim, but its task was more to theorize why this subfield should develop rather than to explicate particular methodological "moves," although it does often accomplish the latter. (See in particular Quiroz [2001] and Sutton [2001] for lengthier treatments of methodology.)

The easiest way to illuminate what an anthropologist of educational policy implementation does is to share examples of it, and most of this chapter is constituted by autobiographic depictions of three cases-the first from Thirusellvan Vandeyar's study of technology education policy implementation in South Africa and the second two from Edmund "Ted" Hamann related to the creation of a novel binational educational project in Georgia (USA) and to Maine's and Puerto Rico's implementation of a short-lived federal education initiative known as the Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration (CSRD) project.