Contesting Expertise and the Struggle over Institutionalized Indigenous Education in Ecuador
Nicholas Limerick

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



Teachers College, Columbia University

Primary Discipline

Currently in the U.S. and around the world, movements for social justice mobilize against the state or other repressive forces as they aim to overturn inequities. This research considers how actors offer or work against expertise and authority as they pursue social change. This investigation will examine one school’s Kichwa-speaking teachers’ activism that seeks a contrastive curriculum and organization, even as the school constitutes a part of Ecuador’s intercultural bilingual school system that is directed by Indigenous planners for Indigenous students. During 12 months of ethnographic research, I will consider 1) how teachers work for and against the school system to which they belong as they seek a different form of schooling, and 2) how teachers’ expertise may respond to the philosophies, actions, and life circumstances of parents and students. These teachers provide insight into the daily negotiations and contestations that accompany critiques of predominant discourses as colonial forms of knowledge, in this case based on insider cultural perspectives and years of professional experience.
About Nicholas Limerick
Nicholas Limerick is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. His research, which is committedly ethnographic, examines the politics of intercultural bilingual education in Ecuador. His book, Recognizing Indigenous Languages: Kichwa and the Double Binds of Intercultural Bilingual Education in Ecuador, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. The book considers how directors of Ecuador’s national Indigenous school system attempt to promote and teach Kichwa—called Quechua outside of Ecuador—from within state institutions that have historically marginalized the language family and its speakers. Over the past few years, he has also been co-writing, with a school director in Quito, a textbook to teach Kichwa for students who no longer speak the language dominantly. He holds a PhD in anthropology and in Educational Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania.

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