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


Dr. Silver's research connects insights from the field of comparative and international education and the anthropologies of gender, development, and policy. She uses ethnographic methods to critically explore how discourses, programs, and policies related to girls' education intersect with young people’s lives. Silver pays particular attention to contestations around sexual and reproductive health. 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 is co-director of York University's Borderless Higher Education for Refugees (BHER) project with Dr. Don Dippo.

Her current research, conducted with Dr. Alyssa Morley (Michigan State University), examines gendered discourses of risk and girls' experiences during COVID-19 in comparative perspective. 


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

  • Rachel Silver and Nancy Kendall (2022). Syndemic Sex Education Sex Education.
  • Rachel Silver, S. Nombuso Dlamini, and Nathan Englander (2021) Travel Bans Expose Continued Enforcement of Colonialism.Toronto Star
  • Rachel Silver and Alyssa Morley (2021). Girls' Education and Sexual Regulation in Malawi Gender and Education.
  • 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). Mapping International Development Relations through Meeting Ethnography. 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

Research Projects

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