Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Phillips, A. J., & Hamann, E. T. (2021). "The Lady from North Carolina": The Perils and Limitations of External Expertise. Anthropology & Education Quarterly. doi:10.1111/aeq.12367


Copyright © 2021 by the American Anthropological Association. Published by John Wiley & Sons. Used by permission.


This paper examines a state department of education’s (SDE) decision to contract a consultant to “turnaround” schools, per a logic of outsourcing for external expertise. Our ethnographically informed case study explores whose knowledge had the most worth in diagnosing areas for improvement and identifies this case as part of a trend to rent competencies, under a neoliberal guise of efficiency, but at the expense of system capacity or learning.