Jim Igoe Interviews 2013 Rappaport Prize Finalist, Scott Freeman*

*Scott Freeman is a doctoral student at Teachers College

 

As part of an ongoing series profiling finalists for the 2013 Rappaport Prize, Jim Igoe interviews Scott Freeman about his research and writing on soil conservation, labor, and environmental awareness in Haiti.

Scott Freeman was a finalist for the 2013 Rappaport Student Paper Prize from the Anthropology and the Environment section.  Scott is completing a Ph.D. in Applied Anthropology at Columbia University Teachers’ College and a dissertation entitled, To Conserve and Protect: Soil Conservation and Environmental Awareness in Haiti.  He is currently a visiting scholar in the Institute for Global and International Studies at George Washington University (Washington, D.C.) Scott was selected as one of five participants in the Rappaport Prize panel at the 2013 AAA meetings on the strength of his paper:Conserving the Project: Labor, Development, and Environmental Government in Haiti. The paper engages long-standing concerns with soil conservation in Haiti. His rich ethnographic analysis reveals the ways in which the economy and logic of funded projects shapes and directs labor practices and environmental awareness. His insights have relevance not only for soil conservation in Haiti, but for conservation and development generally, and in many different parts of the world.

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JI: Could you begin by talking a bit about your background. How did you become interested in anthropology in general, and soil conservation in Haiti in particular?

SFAfter college, I was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic. I lived in an agricultural town in the mountains where I worked with youth, the environment, and sexual health education. There were a number of Haitian migrant workers living in the sprawling barrio where I lived, and we would trade English for Kreyòl lessons. I think that the more time I spent in the DR, the more I was aware of how necessary it was to understand the island as a whole.

I actually never took any anthropology during undergrad (I was pretty interested in comparative literature). During my years as a Peace Corps volunteer, I happened to run into an applied anthropologist. By that time, I was fed up with the absurdities of development that I saw unfolding around me, and he thought I might find some helpful perspectives in anthropology. After I did some reading and spoke more and more to him, I realized that the questions I wanted to ask were already being asked by anthropologists.

My interest in soil conservation is far more recent. It was one of those unforeseeable fieldwork moments. I hadn’t set out to study soil conservation, but I kept seeing these ditches dug along hillsides, and came to realize that they were the work of the organizations I was interested in. They seemed to be everywhere; I really couldn’t get away from them. Farmers I spoke to started telling me they would never build them, because it was the job of the NGOs and projects to do so. It went from an odd side topic of conversation to becoming my primary focus of research. As I learned more about the structures and their history in the country, these canals seemed to be the clearest way to really study how environmental development aid was unfolding.

JI: I remember reading about soil conservation in Haiti back in my Development Anthropology seminar in graduate school back in the late 1980s. What makes this topic such a long-standing topic in environmental anthropology do you think?

SFSupposedly, soil conservation was considered the first ‘global environmental movement’. Right after the Dust Bowl phenomenon in the 1930s, people in the United States were startled. Even Washington DC was getting dust storms. Seeing all of this in the US, other countries (particularly British colonial administrations) wanted to figure out how they can continue to extract resources from the land without having some sort of environmental catastrophe. So soil conservation became this global concern.

Political ecology makes a pretty important intervention into all this. The premise for these interventions was largely that farmers were doing things wrong, and that populations were growing too fast. Piers Blaikie and Harold Brookfield looked at soil degradation and started pointing out that actually degradation has far more to do with broader systems of accumulation and dispossession.

Since then, this back and forth has continued. Is soil degradation the fault of ‘negligent’ farmers? Or is there something more insidious going on in terms of extraction and accumulation? Anthropologists love to get at these questions. They involve global movements of ideas and commodities, and revolve around knowledge production, representation and inequality. I think it was essential that anthropologists played a role in these debates, and I really hope that we continue to do so into the future.

JI: One of my favorite parts of the article is your discussion of collective labor, ritual feasting, and a postive post-colonial identity. Could you talk about that a bit and how it relates to some the arguments you are making about soil conservation?

SFI think one of the most amazing parts of this research has been getting to think about the different ways that people work together in adverse conditions. Cooperative work groups are a prominent part of Haitian life. The strategy is, ‘we’ll work your land one day, my land the next’, and so on. The really fascinating part comes when the groups sell their labor to another person. When they collect payment for their work, they don’t distribute the money. Rather, they hold onto it until the end of December. At that time, they’ll buy a goat or cow to slaughter, and will divide the meat among the members. So rather than individual and immediate cash compensation, there’s delayed, non-cash compensation. On January first then, everyone gets some of the meat to eat. January first is Haitian Independence Day, and this activity comes as an assertion of freedom and humanity, remembering the day that the slaves won their freedom and for the first time could eat what they wanted.  Even if meat is scarce for the rest of the year, on that day everyone can meat- there’s this profound assertion of dignity with independence.

I think this intersects with soil conservation as conservation projects come in with cash-for-work type wages. Many of these projects assemble labor groups to dig ditches. These groups look the same, but there are completely different in terms of the types of relationships that are imposed. Unlike the cooperative work groups, soil conservation group payment is individual, immediate, and in cash. There’s a monetization of the social relationships in group labor. Not that wage labor hasn’t existed before in Haiti, but there’s something really quite different going on here with the way that particular labor forms become coopted for the purpose of cash distribution. Farmers too discuss the wage labor done for soil conservation as something qualitatively different, something they, without a project, would never attempt.

Digging

JI: The central focus of your analysis is what you call “the projectification of soil conservation.” What do you mean by this and what do you regard as some of its primary topical and theoretical implications?

SFWhat I’m referring to is the way that projects slip into the everyday parts of people’s lives. For example, space starts to be defined in terms of beneficiaries, time becomes regulated by the entrance and exits of projects. Grassroots organizations continually seek legal recognition in order to obtain projects. However slowly all these processes occur, they start to alter the everyday.

Development aid has become remarkably dominated by ‘the project’. There are graduate school programs in ‘project management’, and aid workers have described to me their lives as hopping from project to project. I realized that this intense prevalence of the project calls for attention to how aid is  terms of the project. It forces us to consider what are the properties of the project itself—how does a project assert certain logics as it becomes more and more a part of life in both development and in the Haitian countryside.

JI: How would you describe this work fitting with your larger dissertation project?

SFFunny enough, I now wince when I think of my dissertation as a project! But I think that this intersection of an examination of the project and of soil conservation is really at the heart of what I’m doing. I try to take a very historical perspective in understanding how problems get defined, and how they oblige particular solutions. Soil conservation as an institutional response then becomes this package of technical expertise and strategies that gets moved throughout the world to solve ‘environmental degradation’. I think the larger dissertation research really starts to show how profoundly projects work, and how they become this very intense and diffuse type of government.

JI: What kinds of questions and concerns still remain for you? What kinds of research would you like to do next?

SFThere’s still some conceptual work to be forged on the project for me. I think this means trying to reach out to other disciplines, scholars who are thinking about this in perhaps slightly different ways. In regards to soil conservation, there’s interesting work being done on infrastructure that I think aligns nicely with what I’m doing.

I’ve got another project in Haiti I’m excited about continuing. I looked at the vetiver industry in Haiti a few years ago. This is an industry that takes the roots of the vetiver plant, digs them up, distills them, and sells the oils to perfume houses. The oil is in a lot of widely distributed (and expensive) perfumes. I’m interested in the way the perfume industry conceptualizes Haitian vetiver as compared to the Haitian farmers’ understanding of the uses and movements of the oil. This has a lot to do with soil degradation (ripping roots out of the ground is a very real threat to the soil), and processes of extraction and accumulation. I think it will build off the current project really nicely, and hopefully add a important perspective to a very sparsely studied industry

 

Original post can be found here

Faculty Member Lesley Bartlett and Alumna Ameena Ghaffar-Kucher to Receive CIES National Book Award

Original Post can be found here.

 

Lesley Bartlett, Associate Professor of Education, and Ameena Ghaffar-Kucher (Ed.D. ’08), a Senior Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, will receive the 2014 Jackie Kirk Outstanding Book Award from the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) for  Refugees, Immigrants and Education in the Global South (Routledge, 2013). Six of the fifteen chapters in the volume were authored or co-authored by graduates or doctoral students from Teachers College.

The Kirk Award was created in 2010 to honor the professional life of Jackie Kirk, a McGill University faculty member killed in Afghanistan while on a humanitarian aid mission, and her deep commitments to work on gender and education and education in conflict. The award will be formally presented to Bartlett, Ghaffar-Kucher, and affiliated authors next week at the 2010 CIES meeting in Toronto.

The award committee members called Refugees, Immigrants, and Education in the Global South “an important contribution to the debate on education and migration,” calling it “theoretically sophisticated, well developed and intellectually coherent” and praising it for drawing upon “rich ethnographic research approaches”  and contributing
“a wealth of new insights into the cross-cutting issues of gender, education, migration and conflict.”

In the words of nominator Erin Murphy-Graham of the University of California at Berkeley, a key contention of Refugees, Immigrants, and Education in the Global South is that “the definition of who ‘counts’ as a refugee is in need of serious attention.” She praises the book for identifying “a vital new line of inquiry within the fields of education, migration, and development studies: migration and education” and for examining “the role of schooling in incorporating or further marginalizing (im)migrant and displaced populations.”

“In their introduction to the volume, Bartlett and Ghaffar-Kucher argue that the distinction between immigrant and refugee is overstated and that ethnographic attention to the ‘lived experiences of mobile people reveals the permeability of these categories,’” Murphy writes. “In their own words, ‘conventional thought assumes that a refugee is pushed out of his or her country by political concerns, whereas an immigrant or migrant is pulled to another country, largely by economic motivations. Documented refugees may receive support from resettlement agencies in the form of economic support, employment services, education, and psychological services, whereas immigrants and undocumented refugees are largely left to fend for themselves, unless they are fortunate enough to find NGOs offering such assistance.’ Thus, the process of denying or granting refugee status is fraught with complications and shaped by political decisions.”

Doing “Being Ordinary”

By Dr. Portia Sabin*

My husband called me last night from Chicago, where he is in seminary studying to become a Unitarian Universalist minister.  He told me he thought that the Harvey Sacks article I gave him — “On Doing ‘Being Ordinary'” — was quite applicable to his current situation.  He has an interview this Friday with the RSCC, a national body whose function is to determine whether or not ministerial candidates should be allowed to proceed in their candidacy.  Doing poorly at this interview generally means you should find another calling, and as such is a source of much discussion amongst candidates.  He reported that his conversations with other seminarians had led him to believe that they were all hard at work educating one another about the appropriate attitude to have regarding their upcoming RSCC interviews, and that this attitude appeared to require anxiety.  Indeed, NOT being anxious did not appear to be an option for someone who otherwise was doing “being ordinary” in that group.  Because it is so “ordinary” for seminarians to be anxious, my husband wondered if the RSCC board members would find it odd if a candidate was not anxious during the interview.  I said that while the board is no doubt part of the “culture of anxiety” in which candidates go about their daily business, they are also Americans, and that in America confidence and self-possession are also social facts.  Therefore I suggested that he could go into his interview without displaying anxiety and not fear that the board would consider his behavior too “out of the ordinary” in the given situation.

This is only one example of the many ways everything I’ve learned from my Anthropology & Education studies has influenced (affected? infected?) my daily life.  I’ve been having conversations like these with my husband for 14 years, as he became a convert to my theoretical perspective after our very first fight, where he told me he believed in nature over nurture and I said he wasn’t necessarily wrong but simply had chosen the completely uninteresting and unknowable over the interesting and knowable.  For some reason he said, “That’s the girl for me!” at that point and we’ve continued on in intellectual harmony every since.

*Dr. Portia Sabin got her Ph.D. from the TC Anthro & Ed program.  She interrupted her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington after one year to take over the family business, the record label Kill Rock Stars, started by her husband in 1991.  She currently sits on the boards of the American Association of Independent Music and The Recording Academy, Pacific Northwest Chapter.  She most recently dipped her toe back in academia by teaching Introduction to Cultural Anthropology at Portland Community College in Fall 2013.

Beyond Access to Quality Education

By Nyoka Joseph
What challenges do educators face providing quality education for refugees in the Kakuma camp in Kenya? Kakuma Refugee Camp, located in the northwest region of Kenya near the South-Sudanese border, currently hosts over 45,000 registered school aged refugee children. In 2003 the Government of Kenya introduced the Free Primary Education (FPE) policy, which not only increased access to public schools to all children at all levels but included refugee children as part of that initiative.  The 2012 Joint Assessment of the Education Sector in Kakuma Refugee Camp reported a 78.9% and 10.9% Gross Enrollment rate of primary schools and secondary schools respectively.  

 

One significant challenge to quality education in Kakuma, as in most refugee camps, is a lack of funding and as a result a lack of material resources. Limited access to physical facilities is apparent, given the fifteen primary schools (one of which is a community school) and two secondary schools available in the camp. Access to resources such as: – desks, books, sanitation facilities and teaching materials act as another barrier to providing quality education.

 

Beyond the inadequate facilities and resources there is a shortage of qualified teachers and teacher training programs, whereby 80% of teachers have no qualifications. Many of the teachers, refugees themselves, have received low quality education and so providing quality instruction to their students is a challenge.  Their statuses as refugees can also mean high turnovers as teachers seek other employment due to low wages. The Headteacher at Fuji Primary School stated that “you might be a teacher today but either you go outside or you get another job because in the camp they pay many different. So if you feel an organization failing maybe the incentive [inaudible] So it is not like public where a teacher can be in that school for long”.

 

When combined, overcrowded schools and a shortage of trained teachers, results in large teacher pupil ratio which has been known to impact delivery of quality education. In an interview with a class seven teacher at Fuji primary school in Kakuma, he stated that “Yeah, we have some challenges. Challenges. The issue of teachers to pupils. Like in one class you can get even 200 pupils. The ratio is high. It’s a challenge. You might be explaining and others are making noise. It’s a challenge. Others, it’s insufficient. Each and every pupil should be having almost all the subjects, books of all the subjects, but some have none. So there’s no way you can give them homework, say page 107. There’s homework, go and do it at home. But the majority of them do not have the books.”

 

The data that was collected through the joint International Rescue Committee (IRC) and University of Nairobi research project revealed an extra layer of challenges for two specific populations in the camps, girls and unaccompanied minors. Therefore affirming the importance of disaggregating data for refugee populations is significant, as it allows specific issues of vulnerable groups within an already disadvantaged population to be targeted.

 

The Headteacher at Fuji Primary school spoke of the challenges that girls faced regarding some of their cultural obligations and the reality of having to be forced into early marriage, stating that “when you look at in lower classes and you think the number of girls alright, but come into upper [inaudible] married 14” he makes the point that the challenge is not often in the younger girls participation in school but in the participation of the adolescent female student. It was also clear that some of the female pupils interviewed had responsibilities that took priority over continuing and completing their studies at home.  Educating girls is not given urgency in families and their low enrollment and high drop-out rates is evidence given by the Joint Assessment Report that supports the analysis. The class eight Math teacher stated that “you find that they, the education of girls is also in danger. Because, you find that most of the girls that being there are doing a lot of activities at home. So they don’t have enough time for studies”.

 

Unaccompanied minors had to deal with issues of trying to navigate life in the camps on their own or in groups. Many are responsible for collecting their own food rations and registration with UNHCR and therefore are absent from school.  At Fuji Primary school, the class eight Math teacher is quoted as saying that “because we have minors those who have no parents, they live alone. It is hard sometimes when the [inaudible] for the food, they don’t attend classes. [inaudible] So it is also a challenge, Most of the children have no family so when it come to a time of any distribution going on, you find that they don’t come to school. That too is a challenge” The Headteacher at Kismayo Community school reiterated that students’ nutrition is not sufficient and noticed that they are not able to fully participate in classes because they are not receiving enough nourishment day to day.

 

As important as it is to provide quality education in Kakuma or any refugee camp as a matter of fact, it is equally as important to address issues that prevent or delay all refugees from being able to not only access that education but fully participate in their right to be educated.  The discussion has to move beyond access or access to quality education, but also focus on ability to participate in the access to quality education and the challenges that it can present.

 

 

* Nyoka Joseph
M.Ed. Candidate, Comparative and International Education
Teachers College, Columbia University

From Fluffy to Firm, and Back

By Juliette de Wolfe*

For several years before entering the PhD program in Anthropology and Education at Teachers College, I worked in an elementary school as a special education teacher.  I’ve often since referred to this as the “fluffy” world I lived in.   We started sentences with “I’m sorry, but…,” “I don’t know if this makes any sense, but…,” and “Tell me if I’m wrong, but…”, and I say “we” because I did it too.  As a woman, working in a profession dominated by women, communication was indirect, hesitant, and even nervous.  I had become accustomed to this and had a rude awakening when I began my doctoral studies.

I realized about two weeks into the two-year long colloquium at Teachers College that no one in the room cared about what I felt.  They were interested in what I thought, and how I came upon that thought, and what evidence I could use to back it up.  I would take the N train back to my tiny apartment in Queens, NY each Thursday evening after class had finished, licking my wounds and thinking about how nasty, cold, and un-fluffy the experience had been.  There is no feeling in that room, I thought – just stone-cold performance and judgment.  But as we all must in our lives, I adapted.  I began to understand the dance, and to even tap along to the beat once in a while.  By the end of the second semester I was less shy in colloquium and enjoyed the conversations for the lingering stimulation they provided.  On my subway rides home, I eventually spent less time licking wounds, and more time thinking about what my fellow students had presented, and how they had challenged my ideas.

The big break-through for me came in my second year of colloquium.  A male student was presenting his plans for summer fieldwork and I saw major gaps in his methodology.  It seemed as though the day-to-day activities of his fieldwork had not yet been thought through, and I found this extremely problematic.  I raised my hand to ask him, in essence, what he actually planned to do in the field everyday.  As I formulated my question though, I felt my own hesitancy.  My words were flip floppy, and I said things such as “I’m sure you’ve already figured this out, but…,” and “I’m sure it’ll be great, but…,” when it fact I meant the exact opposite.  I meant, “I don’t think you have figured this out at all.  I think you need to come up with a better plan.  And at this point, I don’t think it’ll be great.  I think it’ll be a disaster.”  After I finished stammering through my weak interrogation, a female professor seated next to me, leaned over and told me never to apologize for my questions.  She said that as women we tend to do this, but we shouldn’t.  We have every right to ask assertive questions and demand answers.  I think about that advice often.

Three years later, and with a PhD in hand, I’ve returned to the “fluffy” world.  I’m back in an elementary school setting where (generally) women sit in meetings and still apologize for their questions, their answers, their space in the room.  But I don’t do this anymore, and it makes me stand out.  Just a few weeks ago I was in an English/Language Arts (ELA) planning meeting, where we were discussing quarterly standards.  I posed a question regarding measurement of one of the standards to the ELA coach.  She responded by talking around my question for several minutes floundering through her answer.  This is a smart woman who knows the ELA standards inside and out, but her answer did not reflect her knowledge.  As she wrapped up her answer, her volume began to peter out and she repeated a couple of her points unnecessarily.  She then ended by saying, “I’m not sure I’ve answered your question, but…” and trailed off.  I responded simply, “No, you have not answered it, but I’d be happy to repeat my question.”  She blushed and the attention of the other teachers seated in little tiny chairs around the kidney bean shaped table volleyed back and forth between the coach and me.  This time, I rephrased the question, asking for a yes or no answer, followed by an example of how we would or would not effectively assess said standard.  The coach provided a clear and thoughtful answer, and the conversation moved on to the next item of business.  In that moment though, I realized that the firmness I tried so hard to develop in my PhD program was not practiced in this new space, and perhaps was not even welcome.

I now walk a fine line between demanding real answers to my real questions, and fitting in with the otherwise “fluffy” talk that permeates the culture of elementary school communication.  I doubt I will ever be able to fully return to that place of hesitancy where I was ashamed of my ideas and my space in the room, and yet I also need to be respectful of my colleagues’ feelings and ways of expressing themselves.  Moving forward, I hope that I’m able to provide to my colleagues the professional instruction and personal kindness that my professor showed me that day in colloquium.  I recognize that my colleagues may continue to apologize for their thoughts and ideas, but I see a profound value in reassuring them that there is no need to shirk away from their comments, and that this does our important work as educators no good.  And that is something for which I will never apologize.

*Juliette de Wolfe is a graduate of the PhD programs in Anthropology at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Conceptualizing Educative Practices

By Michael Scroggins*

I believe that the school, as an institution, should simplify existing social life; should reduce it, as it were, to an embryonic form. – John Dewey, My Pedagogical Creed

In a series of works beginning in the 1970’s, Lawrence Cremin reworked Dewey’s utopian vision of the school as a model cooperative community, by taking it, to borrow a phrase from Joseph Dunne, back to the rough ground of everyday life. Partially in response to Illich’s withering broadsides against schooling, Cremin put forth an ecological theory of education positing that the school was but one of many institutions which educate. Instead of “deschooling society” as Illich argued for, we should turn the problem over, look to the broad range of educative practices occurring in the course of ordinary life, and treat the school as but one of many institutions which inevitably educate.

I would like to suggest here that Cremin’s reconceptualization of Dewey’s educational program from the school as society writ small to an ensemble of institutions that educate also demands an equal shift in the methods we employ to study educative practices: a shift from methods predicated on measuring the product of educative practice to a method of research more in line with Dewey’s theory of inquiry. That is, methods focused on the metacognitive process of figuring out what to figure out, which is both a process and a reflection upon the product of that process. This is necessitated by a shift in educational research from problem solving in a well-characterized domain, the classroom, with its fixed ends and means, to problem seeking in an ill-formed domain, everyday life, where the ends and means of educative practice exist in reciprocal relation.

Though Cremin’s program leans heavily on Dewey, he was also influenced by Margaret Mead, with whom he studied during a transitional period in her thinking on education. Following on the heels of the 1954 Stanford Conference, in 1958 Margaret Mead wrote a short article for the Harvard Business Review contrasting two modes of education: vertical transmission, the traditional transfer of traditional knowledge between successive generations implying a strong moral element, and horizontal transmission, the transfer of knowledge without the power/knowledge implications of the teacher/taught relationship. Mead writes that horizontal transfer has become the dominant mode in technological society and that educational research needs to develop new concepts and from them methods to keep pace.

To illustrate the point, Mead uses the mundane, for 1958, example of a child teaching her grandparents how to use a television. The grandchild can offer technical instruction on television tuning in an instrumental mode by imparting know-how to her grandparents, but the grandchild cannot be said to also impart sentimental guidance about what to and what not to watch on the television. The technical instruction in tuning from the grandchild is just one moment in an ongoing process of figuring out what to watch, which started with the idea that in 1958 a television is necessary and continues as long as there is a television to be watched. The grandchild’s instruction, therefore, doesn’t set the television watching in motion, but rather meets the grandparents in media res.

As Cremin wrote of people’s everyday efforts in Public Education (1976): ”Everyday in every part of the world people set out to teach something to others or to study something themselves. . . They deserve a theory specifically addressed to their problems and purposes, one that will assist them to act intelligently, ever hopeful of the possibilities but fully aware of the limitations and risks that attend their efforts.” Implied in the quote, as in his reworking of Dewey’s program, is a theory of educative practice for “the ordinary business of living;” it’s a theory focused on the public process of instruction and deliberation; not its private products.

 

*Michael Scroggins is a PhD student in Anthropology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia. Currently he is conducting research in and around Silicon Valley on DIYBio and Citizen Science in hackerspaces and other informal institutions (this means garages and kitchens for the most part).

The Invisible Walls of Aid

Originally appeared here.

By Scott Freeman

In order to prepare students for the aid industry, graduate and undergraduate institutions have designed degrees and concentrations in international development. Focusing on thinking critically about policy and procedure, students are ostensibly prepared so that previous errors will not be repeated again. But once one is ‘in’ the industry, is knowledge about ‘good policy’ enough?

Conducting research on international development aid most often involves examining a project or initiative, looking at both the implementer and recipient perspective, and using data to critically analyze the situation. Without going into a large literature review, suffice it to say this trail has been walked more than once.

A number of authors (Fechter and Hindman 2011Lewis 2011), have followed aid workers themselves in an attempt to understand their realities, rather than basing criticism only on the bookends of written proposals and completed projects.

Looking at the ways that movements and interactions might be regulated within certain NGOs allows researchers examining policy to move from considering just documents and paper, to thinking about the individuals that make up the development industry. Their movements and interactions are actually key parts of aid, and for some NGO workers, may be a major lens through which ‘the way things work’ is fostered.

While hanging out on a beach in the southwest of Haiti, I had drinks with a number of NGO workers, one of whom enlightened me to the Port au Prince “NGO world” of mobility and immobility. He worked for an agency that was particularly lenient: he had a driver, but was free to drive himself on evenings and weekends. However, he shared with me that most of his other friends and colleagues outside of his organization did not benefit from such leniency. Rules governed where and with whom they could drive. Their movement was largely relegated to a company car. To get in another car, the license plate had to be taken down, the driver verified- a whole series of checks performed before riding in another car, that often served to derail any impromptu rides. Furthermore, his colleagues’ movements within the city might be limited to particular districts. For example, he said, they may not be able to go have a beer in a roadside bar at night in the Delmas area.

His perspective on the situation was eye opening. While beer at a roadside watering hole proves to be out of the question for some workers, getting one of his lower income Haitian friends from Delmas toc come up to an expat drinking hole in Petionville seemed equally as prohibitive. The high prices of drinks, and the difficulty/safety of transport on motorcycle at late hours of the night meant that more often than not, his plans were thwarted.

The NGO worker saw these restrictions as creating a class division that inhibited interactions. He was friends with Haitians of different social classes, but with these security rules in place, facilitating the meeting of one NGO worker with another Haitian friend for a drink became nearly impossible.

What happens when social interactions are restricted in space and time? Are security policies contributing to a growing gap between expat aid workers and the broad diversity of Haitian citizens?

The intersecting immobilities in Port au Prince have implications for how Haiti is experienced and described. These effects ripple through the design of projects and initiatives and, in narratives of Haiti’s  insecurity and limited ‘capacity’, buttress the neo-colonial justification for foreign aid itself.

 * Scott Freeman, is a doctoral student in Applied Anthropology

Refugee education in Kenya: Language and encampment policies

By Meredith Saucier*

The focus of my group’s research has been the quality of refugee education in Kenya, both in the urban Nairobi context and at Kakuma refugee camp, keeping in mind two key government policies that affect education quality: the language policy and the refugee encampment policy. As part of this research, we also analyzed data from an IRC-led study that included class observations and interviews with teachers, pupils, and key informants in Kakuma camp and Nairobi. The preliminary findings from this analysis revealed that many organizations are working to improve education quality at both the urban and camp levels, and that they simultaneously collaborate with the Government of Kenya (GoK) and also attempt to address the challenges that may stem from the GoK’s language and encampment policies.

In order to further the discussion of the organizations at work in Nairobi and Kakuma, I would like to introduce the language and encampment policies in Kenya. In brief, GoK’s language policy as outlined in the Constitution of Kenya is that Kiswahili and English are the official languages and should be taught in schools. As a result of this policy, English is heavily valued. GoK’s encampment policy as outlined in the Refugee Act of 2006 dictates that refugees should reside in camps and that they must be documented and registered. Though urban refugee settlement has been tolerated, the GoK’s policy is still one of refugee encampment.

Kakuma Refugee Camp

There are many organizations at work in Kakuma that maintain varied relationships with the GoK. First and foremost, UNHCR, as the international body mandated to work with refugees, is the only agency mandated to administer Kakuma. UNHCR has partnered with numerous organizations for program implementation at the camp level. These organizations include World Food Program (WFP), Windle Trust International (WTI), Lutheran World Foundation (LWF) and Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS). The latter 3 organizations (WTI, LWF, JRS) were frequently cited in our data as implementers of education programs in Kakuma.

WTI provides teacher training, scholarships, English language training including proficiency certification and TOEFL testing, and girls’ education promotion through programming and teacher recruitment. WTI is committed to partnering with UNHCR to improve the quality of education in Kakuma, and also meets monthly with other implementing partners and the GoK. The Department of Refugee Affairs and the MoE must also give permission to implement programs in Kakuma, keeping implementing organizations accountable to GoK policies.

JRS implements five programs in Kakuma, including for child protection, disability inclusion, English training for teachers, scholarships and online teacher education. The JRS makes it a goal to not duplicate programs in Kakuma and offers only services that other organizations are not, though they also collaborate with partners on some programs. As UNHCR is the managing agency at Kakuma, JRS implements according to UNHCR’s global education policy and also works closely with the GoK and its policies.

LWF was the original implementing organization in Kakuma prior to UNHCR’s absorption of operations. Currently LWF runs multiple programs in Kakuma, including a school meals program, scholarships, child protection, teacher training, inclusion activities, and supplies donation. They also operate several primary and secondary schools. LWF follows UNHCR’s education strategy as well as the GoK policies. LWF also works closely with the MoE and follows the Kenyan curriculum.

Nairobi

In the urban context of Nairobi, UNHCR is the primary agency providing services to refugees. UNHCR’s work in Nairobi is guided by the 2009 UNHCR Urban Refugee policy, which committed the agency to “examine, understand and respond to the needs of refugees living in the Kenyan capital”. UNHCR has been able to raise refugee student enrollment rates, coordinate with Nairobi NGOs and CBOs, build a system in which refugees and asylees can be documented and registered in urban areas, and has provided education services in urban schools, such as English classes.

The primary challenge of offering services in Nairobi as compared to Kakuma is that urban refugees are more dispersed, making it more difficult for UNHCR to locate and implement programs for potential beneficiaries. To accomplish their mandate, UNHCR has partnered with NGOs and the refugee community to improve UNHCR’s access and reach in the urban refugee community. One powerful example of UNHCR’s successful partner-building is a coalition the agency formed with the City Education Department that led to a spike in refugee enrolment at the primary level. UNHCR also convened two inter-agency working groups that advocated for refugees’ access to primary education and the completion of the Refugee Act of 2006. UNHCR has formed strong relationships with NGOs and CBOs in Nairobi, allowing them to offer services to hard-to-reach beneficiaries via their collaborative strategy.

Though UNHCR has been implementing the UNHCR urban refugee policy in Nairobi, and found support in the Mayor of Nairobi as well as other local government actors, the GoK has not formally endorsed the policy nor agreed to its implementation. In a 2011 review of UNHCR’s urban refugee policy implementation, however, it was noted that the Kenyan government seemed to be taking “a number of steps” that align with UNHCR’s policy which may signal a change of perception on the case of urban refugees in Nairobi. Though this is a positive sign, it cannot go unmentioned that in December of 2012 the Kenyan government released a renewed encampment directive ordering all urban refugees to relocate to refugee camps. The GoK suspended refugee and asylee registration following the announcement, and refugees reported police harassment and detention. Ultimately, the refugee community petitioned the directive and it was later rejected in Kenya’s High Court. Though this is a victory for urban and camp-based refugees alike, it remains to be seen how committed the GoK will be toward both protecting the rights of refugees and asylees in urban areas and working toward policies to ease the burden of the ballooning Kakuma refugee population, which surpassed its 100,000 person capacity in 2012 and continues to grow.

Across these urban and camp-based programs are common ties: a focus on English instruction, including teacher training so that teachers may effectively teach English to their refugee students, and particularly in Kakuma, a struggle to meet growing class sizes with both limited supplies and poor teacher to student ratios. These programs suggest that organizations are finding ways to salve the challenges of education provision that arise from GoK’s language and encampment policies, especially considering the challenges that come with implementing in Kakuma, a setting that was initially meant to be a short-term solution and is now moving into more than two decades of operation.

*Meredith Saucier is a Masters student in the International Educational Development program and a student in the Globalization, Migration, and Education Fall 2013 course.

Haitian migrants in Dominican Republic

By Kiran Jayaram*

 

My doctoral research examined the experiences of Haitian educational and labor migrants to the Dominican Republic.  I chose to study two distinct populations–Haitian university students and workers—in order to examine how class mediates migration experiences. More specifically, I considered how migrants live and understand their specific engagements with the state, market, and society across differences in race, class, gender, and citizenship.  Their actual experiences of incorporation belie neoliberal understandings that would posit a neat alignment of their lives along a vector indexing the market value of their skills. So, for example, in my article titled “Capital Changes,” published in Caribbean Quarterly, I challenge “the myth of Haitian homogeneity” and show how changes in the Dominican economy have provoked shifts in the migration flow, influenced the labor market insertion of Haitian immigrants, and incited changes in anti- Haitian sentiments in the Dominican Republic.

While my primary focus while enrolled at TC was completing my Ph.D., I engaged in several supplemental activities.  Since 2008, I have continued to work for the Workers Rights Consortium regarding issues of Haitian factory workers on the Dominican border.  After the 2010 earthquake, I was hired by the Earth Institute to conduct preliminary research for a major development project and to write a report on land tenure in post-earthquake Haiti (historical, legal, anthropological, conflict resolution, governmental, etc).

Upon returning from the field, I started other activities.  I began teaching an introductory cultural anthropology class and a survey course on world cultures.  Most significantly, I worked with the State University of Haiti’s Faculté d’Ethnologie and my TC colleague Scott Freeman to submit and secure a Wenner-Gren Institutional Development Grant to build a doctoral program of anthropology in Haiti.  Primary international partners are Teachers College and the University of Kansas, but we also have support of faculty from Harvard, Northern Illinois University, the University of Costa Rica, and other educational institutions across the globe.

Currently, I am working with an Amazonianist colleague to develop an NSF grant proposal for urgent research among Haitians living on the Peru-Brazil border.  Undertaking this project is absolutely dependent upon my ability to secure funding before August 2014.  In any case, my next research project, which I submitted as a Fulbright Flex Grant proposal for three years of short-term funding, concerns the economic, social, and cultural consequences of post-earthquake export mango production for Haitian cultivators.  In the more distant future, I will pick up the theme of the dissertation project that originally led me to study at TC:  the political economy and ideologies of literacy and numeracy in Haiti.

Kiran Jayaram is a PhD. Student in the Applied Anthropology Program at Teachers College, Columbia University

 

A Comparison of Actions toward Roma Inclusion in the European Union

By Chelsea Kallery

On June 29, 2000, the European Union (EU) adopted Council Directive 2000/43/EC, also called the Race Equality Directive (RED), with the goal of providing a legal framework for addressing issues of discrimination based on race or ethnicity. As it was a directive for the entire EU, complaints using it were to be taken to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), as opposed to any national courts.

On February 2, 2005, it was declared that 2005-2015 would be the Decade of Roma Inclusion in twelve countries in the European Union (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Spain.) This was a time to decisively and wholeheartedly address issues of discrimination that were present in each country, and with the guidance of the European Union, the countries would be able to develop policies and National Action Plans that would mirror one another, creating a standard for progress.

On April 5, 2011, six years after the start of the Decade of Roma Inclusion, the European Commission adopted the report entitled An EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020. In this report, the European Commission requested that member countries prepare or revise their own national strategies to help achieve concrete goals for Roma inclusion by the end of December, 2011. The report called attention to four areas of disparity in European society: access to education, employment, healthcare and housing.

Together, these pieces of legislation could to be used to address the severe and constant discrimination faced by Roma people in many parts of Europe. Although they do provide an outline for action, their effectiveness is questionable at best. The report from the European Commission claims that specific action is needed to assist the Roma, but it does not actually present a path for countries to follow. For each of the four main areas of disparity, there are certain suggestions of focus. For example, to improve access to education, the priority is for Roma children to complete primary school. The Council of Europe states that it will train mediators to address discrimination in communities throughout the EU, that teacher training is important, and that early childhood education should be included. These are all rather vague assertions, providing the opportunity for wide variance of interpretation by each country.

In fact, that is exactly what happened. In Hungary, for example, kindergarten is mandatory, whereas the Czech Republic allows its citizens the options of either kindergarten or preparatory classes.

Additionally, simply because the EU released documents containing suggestions for action on issues of inequality does not guarantee that they will be followed or enforced. In her piece entitled, Segregation of Roma Children in Education: Addressing Structural Discrimination through the Race Equality Directive, Lilla Farkas outlines ways in which the RED can be used to assist Roma families. The second part is directed specifically at discrimination in schools. Her interpretation of the RED is thorough and would perhaps be helpful if it were distributed to and discussed with Roma communities. Being commissioned by the European Commission, the piece could even be translated and used by the mediators they mention in their Framework.

The role of the mediators is not clarified in the Framework. While one report on The Situation of Roma School Mediators and Assistants in Europe was released in 2006, and other information has been issued for the health sector, it is unclear what they have done since these projects took place, and whether or not all areas of focus have been sufficiently researched and addressed. (In January 2013, there was a meeting in Brussels to discuss the mediator program, ROMED. The meeting lasted roughly two days and discussions were two or three hours each.)

With the close of the Decade of Roma Inclusion fast approaching, it will be interesting to see how well the EU managed to achieve its goals in assisting the Roma people. While some independent projects have resulted in positive momentum, such as the Roma Mentor Project in Hungary, others are still in the discussion and research-gathering phase. It is not entirely surprising how slowly official developments have been made, especially considering how long it took the EU to provide any sort of guiding document to its member states on Roma inclusion. However, the lack of action does not indicate a change in societal temperaments toward the Roma people. The EU itself has much to do for the Roma. Now that the issue of discrimination is on the table, perhaps the EU can organize around some successful projects and disseminate successful models to other areas in need.

Chelsea Kallery is a Masters student in the Comparative and International Education program and a student in the Globalization, Migration, and Education Fall 2013 course.