Schooling in (Il)legal Economies: A Comparative Study of Educational Experiences in the Midst of the Drug Wars
Diana Rodriguez-Gomez

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Wisconsin-Madison

Primary Discipline

Pointing to decades of drug-related violence against the most vulnerable, experts have declared the War on Drugs a failure. This has opened space for a drug policy reform that promotes decriminalization of illicit crops. In Colombia, these two global responses to coca cropping have resulted in the coexistence of an illegal coca economy and an incipient legal coca market. Yet, little is known about the interfaces between legal and illegal markets, and the lived schooling experiences of educators and students. Drawing from contemporary theories of the state, political economy, and emergency education, the proposed study will examine how two global responses to coca production—the War on Drugs and the Drug Policy Reform movement—shape school life. It will analyze the effects of illicit and licit coca markets on school management procedures, curricular decisions, and educators and students. Designed as a comparative case study, this research combines archival work with interviews and in-depth participant observation. It focuses on (1) how educators and students make sense of the political influence state and non-state actors exert over schools; and (2) how they perceive coca-related activities intersect (or not) with key aspects of school life. By highlighting the intersection between state-market configurations and schooling, this research has implications for education policy and the education of children and youth distributed across the drug supply chain.
About Diana Rodriguez-Gomez
Diana Rodríguez-Gómez is an Assistant Professor in the Educational Policy Studies Department at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Dr. Rodríguez-Gómez scholarship examines trans-local processes of state-building and education policy-making in contexts shaped by high levels of violence, armed conflict, forced migration and/or states of emergency. Through ethnographic, visual, and collaborative research approaches, she attends to the everyday processes of statecraft. Through this approach she examines how the social relations between policy makers, street-level bureaucrats, educators and students shape educational policies. Her most recent work has appeared in the Journal of Education and Emergencies, where she co-edited a Special Issue on Education and the War on Drugs. She received the Concha Delgado Gaitán Early Career Presidential Fellowship granted by the Council on Anthropology and Education from the American Anthropological Association in 2019, and the Junior Faculty Teaching Award granted by the Center for Latin American Studies from Ohio State University in 2020. Dr. Rodríguez-Gómez holds a BA from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia; an M.A. from University of Sussex in the United Kingdom, and an Ed.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Pin It on Pinterest