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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Katherine Baxter

Katherine Baxter
Katherine Baxter
Sociology School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh UK EH89SU
+44 (0)784 509 2651
Research Interests
Education and social change, Sociology of Knowledge, Sustainability, Sociology of Sustainability, Environmental Sociology, Sociology of Education, Education for Sustainable Development, Alternative epistemologies, Knowledge production and practices, Nepal and the Himalaya, international development, the sociology of development and aid practices

PhD Title

Sustaining/able Epistemologies: An Ethnography of Education Practices in Nepal

Research Overview:

‘Education’ in its many forms is a foundational element of international aid policies and development practices. The scope and scale of aid poured into education in the Global South is substantial, with an estimated US$ 30 billion invested into education between 2002 and 2008, and an additional US$ 16 billion needed annually to meet the EFA (Education For All) ambitions for 2015. Considering that the sum of international aid provided in 2011 is estimated to be around US$ 125 billion, this figure is significant. Most importantly, the presence and the impacts of this aid in the lives of children in parts of the Global South are significant, and sometimes determinative. This project, therefore, seeks to engage with how the potentiality of educational knowledge practices are expressed, enacted and experienced by children in local schools. It takes as its point of departure the tension that is theorized to lie on the fault line between, on the one hand, the possibilities for global citizenship, sustainability and humanistic opportunity for change that global education knowledge practices can carry; and on the other, the possibilities that the imposition of these global education initiatives might pose in eroding local, particularistic foundations of diversity, knowledge practices and sustainability. Without prejudging the real, everyday impact of these contrasting epistemologies, I will explore this confliction in a multi-sited, contrast ethnography of three primary schools in Nepal. These are conceived as contested sites where educational knowledge practices are enacted in the daily lives of children, and where these practices have open-ended potential, contingent upon the individuals who experience ‘education’, assign meaning to its practices and provide agency to surrounding power structures. Most broadly, then, this research seeks to retrieve or make visible the epistemological framing of educational institutional practices, and in particular those knowledge practices embodied in development and its institutions, and in the relationship between those practices and ‘modernity’. This will be done with an eye towards discerning the sustainability of certain practices and associated educational knowledges and their contrasting epistemologies.


Dr. Liliana Riga

Dr. Niamh Moore

Additional Projects:

LIVED: Learn. Imagine. Vocalise. Empathise. Document.

LIVED is a registered Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organization SC045204















Info at:

The LIVED Zaatari Documentary Project:

The Lived Zaatari Documentary Project, as part of, aims to improve, communicate and shed an ethnographic light on the lived experiences of displaced school-aged Syrian children living in and around the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan. This is a collaborative, postgraduate student initiative that seeks to reveal the stories of these children in a way that is meaningful and that resonates, both for those children living in Zaatari and for those outside Zaatari looking in, hoping to make a difference.

The project is funded by the University of Edinburgh Innovation Initiative Grant and is part of the 50 year celebration of Sociology at Edinburgh. It is also supported by the United Nations Association Edinburgh (UNAE) and the United Nationas Association Scotland (UNAS). This project is rooted in a collaboration between myself and my fellow PhD candidate in Sociology, Arek Dakessian.

Info at:


University of Edinburgh Principal's Career Development PhD Scholarship

2013-2014 Univeristy of Edinburgh Innovation Initiative Grant

2013-2014 EUSA Teaching Award Nominee- Sustainable Development 1A


Tutor: Globalization, Fall 2015

Tutor: Sustainable Development 1A, Fall 2014; Fall 2015

Tutor: Sociology 1B, Spring 2014

Tutor: Sociology 1A, Fall 2013; Fall 2014

Senior Tutor: Sustainable Development 1A, Fall 2013

Guest Lecturing:

South Asian Studies 2B, Spring 2015

International Perspectives on Education and Training, Spring 2015

Sustainable Development 1A, Fall 2015

Publications and Conferences:

Baxter, K. 'The Potentials of Synergising Educational Knowledges: Plural Sustainabilities and Ecologies in Nepal', Paper Presented at Planning for Climate Change Transdisciplinary Conference, University of London. 4-6 Dec 2014.

Baxter, K. 'Institutional Ethnography and Education Practices: An Inquiry into UN and WB Education Initiatives', Paper Presented at New Directions Sociology Conference, University of Edinburgh. 19 April 2013.

Book Review: Connolly, W. (2013) The Fragility of Things: Self-Organizing Processes, Neoliberal Fantasies, and Democratic Activism. Duke University Press. Forthcoming.

Additional Involvement:

Committee member, sustainability officer: United Nations Association Edinburgh (UNAE) Info at:

Staff Writer: It Ain't Necessarily So. Info at:

Reviewer: HYDRA Interdisciplinary Journal of Social and Political Science. The University of Edinburgh.

Panelist: 'Teaching Sociology', New Directions Annual Sociology Conference. The Univeristy of Edinburgh. April 2014.

Speaker: 'Blurring Pre/Post/Amidst-Conflict Boundaries in the Everyday', Agency in Post-Conflict Societies Conference. The University of Edinburgh. October 2014. Info at:

Facilitator: 'Visions for Change: Disruptive Innovation Seminar on Circular Economy', The University of Edinburgh Business School. October 2014. Info at:

Panelist: 'Engaging Global Scholarship Through Political Science', American Political Science Association. November 2013. Info at: