Current Institutional Affiliation
Professor, Department of Historical and Political Studies, Arcadia University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2004
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Education, University of Pennsylvania
Identity, Knowledge, Work: the Role of Teachers in Constructing the Eritrean Nation-State

This project will examine the construction of the Eritrean state by studying the ways in which national educational policy is mediated by teachers and altered in the process of implementation. While there is a vast literature on schooling, the state and nation building, little of this literature has emphasized the complex role of teachers in these processes. Through teachers' experiences of becoming "educated people" and through processes of professional socialization, teachers develop knowledge and opinions about education and nation building that may resist, support, alter or reinterpret government policy. The state is constructed both discursively, through teacher's descriptions of their experiences as citizens, nationals and government employees, and through teachers practice as participate in the shaping of educated citizens. The study will place teacher practice in the context of Eritrea's official vision for education and development and teachers' processes of national and professional identity formation. The origins and implementation of the "official" vision for Eritrean national education and development will be examined through policy documents and interviews with Ministry of Education officials. Life history interviews with teachers will uncover the processes through which teachers' beliefs and normalizing assumptions about teaching and the nation have been formed. Intensive observations in the senior secondary schools in the town of Assab, Eritrea will uncover the everyday routines, rituals and practices of schooling through which teachers' version of the imagined state is performed to students. The study will both enhance our understanding of teachers' role in policy implementation and nation building, and will raise questions about the nature of the state and the multiplicity of cultural, social, and political forces that are invoked in its construction.