Rachel Silver

Assistant Professor

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


Rachel’s research connects insights from the field of comparative and international education and the anthropologies of gender, sexuality, and policy. Using ethnographic methods, she explores the drivers of diverse migration trajectories in and out of Africa, and the gendered consequences of these trajectories for youth. Specifically, she shows how formal education interacts with systems of production and reproduction to shape young people’s lives and possibilities for mobility. Rachel pays particular attention to sexuality as a contested terrain on which larger struggles over moral and political authority are waged in moments of transition. Her dissertation, entitled Sex, Schooling, and Moral Triage in Malawi, is a multi-sited ethnography of student pregnancy from the transnational girls' education arena to the lives of young mothers. Rachel has conducted extensive fieldwork in Southern and Eastern Africa, including in Malawi and in Kenya’s Dadaab Refugee Camps, and with refugee communities resettled in the US.

Scholarly Interests

migration and refugee studies; education and international development; girls' education; gender, sexuality, and Life Skills education; ethnography; anthropology of education; African Studies with particular regional interest in Southern and Eastern Africa

Faculty & School/Dept

  • Faculty of Education -

Courses Taught

  • Comparative Perspectives on Global Migration and Education (GS/EDUC 5463)
  • Ethnography of Education (GS/EDUC 6205)
  • Issues in Globalization and Education (GS/EDUC 5464)
  • Rethinking Schooling: A "Re-Introduction" to Education (ED/EDUC 1000)

Selected Publications

  • Rachel Silver (2020). Sex, Schooling, and the Paradox of the Readmission Policy in Malawi. In Lydia Boyd and Emily Burrill (Eds.), Legislating Gender and Sexuality in Africa: Rights, Society and the State. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Rachel Silver (2019). "Nothing but Time": Middle Figures, Student Pregnancy Policy, and the Malawian State. African Studies Review, 62 (4).
  • Nancy Kendall and Rachel Silver (2017). Legislating Gender and Sexuality in Africa: Rights, Society and the State. In Jen Sandler and Renita Thedvall (Eds.), Meeting Ethnography: Interrogating Meetings as Key Technologies of Contemporary Governance, Development, and Resistance. New York, NY: Routledge
  • Nancy Kendall and Rachel Silver (2014). The Consequences of Global Mass Education: Schooling, Work, and Well-Being in EFA-Era Malawi. In Nelly Stromquist and Karen Monkman (Eds.), Globalization and Education: Integration and Contestation Across Cultures (2nd ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield
  • Patricia Buck and Rachel Silver (2013). Tradition, Enlightenment, and the Role of Schooling in Gender Politics Among Somali Girls and Women in Dadaab. In Lesley Bartlett and Ameena Ghaffar-Kucher (Eds.), Refugees, Immigrants, and Education in the Global South: Lives in Motion. London: Routledge


  • Gail P. Kelly Award for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation, Comparative and International Education Society - 2020

Professional Affiliations

  • Comparative and International Education Society
  • American Anthropological Association

Service/Community Activities