Rachel Silver

Assistant Professor, Co-Director, Borderless Higher Education for Refugees (BHER) Project

PhD - University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI; MA - University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI; MA - Yale University, New Haven, CT

Location(s) / Contact Info:

258, Winters College - WC
Keele Campus
Phone: 416-736-2100 Ext. 88758

Email: resilver@edu.yorku.ca


Dr. Silver's research draws on and contributes to several fields: the anthropologies of education, gender, and policy; comparative and international education; critical development studies; and refugee and forced migration studies. At its core, her work explores two overlapping concerns: (1) how international development discourses, policies, and programs related to student sexuality intersect with broader political economic projects (e.g., colonialism, racial capitalism); and (2) negotiations around ownership and partnership in development/humanitarian aid structures and knowledge production practices.

She has conducted extensive fieldwork in Southern and Eastern Africa, including in Malawi and Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camps, as well as with refugee communities resettled in the US.

Silver has two current research projects. The first, with graduate student HaEun Kim and Kenya-based collaborators Mark Okello Oyat and Sahra Mohamed Ismail, examines the possibilities for graduate-level education in refugee camps to shift the politics of knowledge production in the field of forced migration studies, where the vast majority of research is conducted by non-refugee scholars from the global North. The second, conducted with Dr. Alyssa Morley (Michigan State University), examines gendered discourses of risk and girls' experiences during COVID-19 in comparative perspective.

At York, Silver is co-director of York University's Borderless Higher Education for Refugees (BHER) project with Dr. Don Dippo.


Scholarly Interests

critical development studies; ethnography, girls' education; sexual and reproductive health education; forced migration and refugee studies; state/NGO/international funder relations; transnational feminisms; globalization and education

Faculty & School/Dept

  • Faculty of Education -

Courses Taught

  • Comparative Perspectives on Global Migration and Education (GS/EDUC 5463)
  • Education and International Development (ED/EDUC 3711)
  • Ethnography of Education (GS/EDUC 6205)
  • Rethinking Schooling: A "Re-Introduction" to Education (ED/EDUC 1000)

Selected Publications

Research Projects

Borderless Graduate Education and the Politics of Knowledge Production

Role: Principal Investigator

Year Funded: 2022

Duration: 2

Funded by: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

Returns at Risk: COVID-19 and Girls' Education in Malawi

Role: Principal Investigator

Year Funded: 2021

Funded by: NAEd/Spencer Foundation


  • Gail P. Kelly Award for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation, Comparative and International Education Society - 2020
  • Concha Delgado Gait├ín Presidential Fellowship, American Anthropological Association's Council on Anthropology and Education - 2021

Professional Affiliations

York University Affiliations/Cross Appointments