2021 Conference Theme: Ethnography & Racial Justice

The University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and the Center for Urban Ethnography will celebrate the 42nd convening of the Ethnography in Education Research Forum, one of the most longstanding and renowned scholarly venues for this intellectual tradition, on February 26th and 27th, 2021.

The theme for the 2021 Ethnography in Education Research Forum, Ethnography and Racial Justice, will focus on the complexities associated with race and inequity that have historically defined social systems in the U.S and globally. Ethnographic research has created interdisciplinary pathways to think expansively about how culture is understood, entwined with related concepts, and revised to weigh critical questions of race, racism, and multiple forms of inequality. Ethnographic scholarship has examined the everyday lives, hardships, and forms of resistance within historically marginalized communities and has provided nuanced analyses that delineate the intersections of these issues with problems of educational access and social (in)equity.  The 2020 protests and uprisings, most notably Black Lives Matter, remind us-as a field and as members of society-that the problems of systemic racism are longstanding, persistent, and woven into the fabric of education. They also urge us to move forward boldly, directing and refining our scholarship to advance the uncoupling of structural barriers for students, their families, and communities and to bring about new educational dispositions.

We welcome submissions that urge the field to examine the role of ethnography to unpack the problems of racial justice and inform research, practice, and policy and the ethical dilemmas associated with them. Sessions for the Forum will highlight forward-thinking agendas that elevate the possibilities to imagine and reimagine educational research, scholarship, practice, and policy.

In 2021, we will hold an online, invited program, in response to the face-to-face constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Forum will include 12-15 invited, group presentations, e.g., panels, symposia, Views-by-Two, speaker with respondents, and other formats with two or more participants. Presentation proposals will be peer reviewed, and those with the highest scores will be invited. Presentations should consider the wide range of ethnographic-focused inquiry and options that highlight the historical issues of race that have continued into the present and the role of ethnography in capturing both their complexity and the possibilities for education research to address them.  

We are fortunate to have several outstanding plenary speakers, including Eve Ewing, recipient of the 2020 Book Award. We will have a full and engaging schedule over the two days and opportunities for participants to interact in small discussion sessions, online exhibits, and other interactive formats. 

In the tradition of the Pre-Forum Seminar on Culture and Race with Emerging Scholars, created in 1990, an online Invited Youth Research Forum with high school youth will take place on Thursday, February 25th, 2021. Youth will present work focused on social problems facing diverse communities, issues of race, and civic engagement. 

The format for the 2021 Forum program, while different than past years, will open up a range of opportunities to share knowledge and work toward contributing to new discourses and possibilities in the current precarious moment in U.S. and global communities. We welcome your submissions and look forward to your participation.


Vivian L. Gadsden and Gerald Campano

Faculty Co-Convenors


Dr. Prudence Carter

Associate Professor of Education
Co-Director, Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy 
in Education

Dr. Vaughn V. M. Watson

Assistant Professor of Education
Michigan State University, College of Education
Dr. Eve Ewing

Assistant Professor 
University of Chicago
School of Social Service Administration
Dr. Joanne E. Marciano

Associate Professor of Education
Michigan State University, College of Education
Dr. Carla Shedd

Associate Professor of Sociology. & Urban Education
City University of New York Graduate Center

 Dr. Manuel Espinoza

Associate Professor of Education
University of Colorado Denver
School of Education & Human Development 

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Conference Leadership Team


Vivian L. Gadsden 
William T. Carter Professor of Child Development and Education

H. Gerald Campano
Professor of Education


Alex Posecznick
Adjunct Associate Professor of Education Program Manager of Education, Culture, and Society and International Educational Development


Christopher R. Rogers
Ph.D Student, Reading/Writing/Literacy '23


Gabrielle Morales


Mary Yee, Ed.D


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