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Sociology: People


Katherine Baxter

Katherine Baxter
Katherine Baxter
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, Childhood and Youth Studies, refugees and displacement

Research Overview:

My PhD research at the University of Edinburgh explores the myriad, rippling ways the ‘global schooling project’ shapes and transforms the everyday lives of children and families in Nepal. Based on 6 months of ethnographic fieldwork in central Nepal, I bring attention to young people’s livelihoods and everyday choices, ethnographically describing their work, school and play routines and the creative, intimate ways they navigate the multitude of pressures, expectations and opportunities they face on a daily basis. This research, then, is a kind of ‘ethnography of the everyday’ conducted and written in a way that aims not to lose the complexity, dimensionality and holisticity of the lives I encountered and the time we shared. Most of my ethnography centers around one particular street in Nepal, Mansawar Street, where the holistic, work, school and play-filled lives of the young people involved in my research intersect.

 I found that educational landscapes significantly shape the hopes, dreams and aspirations of young people in Nepal, and that this in turn shapes the everyday choices and livelihood strategies of them and their families. My research brings to attention the heavy burden and enormous amount of pressure the global push for formal, English schooling places on children to achieve academically, while also balancing work and livelihood responsibilities, as well as the pressure this places on families and carers to be able to secure the financial means to send their children to a ‘good’ school. I show how this fuels many family’s decisions to move out of rural spaces and give up their subsistence livelihoods to seek income and wage labour in the city or abroad. This movement creates absences and changes in the structure of emotional, intimate life that significantly impact these young people and their families.

I further argue that the vision of schooling contained within the ‘global schooling project’ and the Education for All  (United Nations 2017) global initiative often marginalizes the non-academic virtues the young people involved in my research possess, concealing and suppressing their diverse talents and unique capabilities by embodying a very narrow, linear conception of success, knowledge, worth and achievement. Their success or failure in school, therefore, according to standards and criteria they had no hand in designing, had a significant impact on their feelings of self worth. 


Dr. Liliana Riga

Dr. Niamh Moore

Additional Projects:

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

LIVED is a registered Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organization SC045204

The LIVED Zaatari Documentary Project:

The Lived Zaatari Documentary Project, as part of LIVEDprojects, aimed 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 was a collaborative, postgraduate student initiative that sought 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. See the trailer to the documentary our team made in Jordan here.

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


09/2014-09/2017. University of Edinburgh Principal's Career Development PhD Scholarship

03/2016. British Academy Grant SG152525, ‘Childhoods, Networks and Dispersed Intimacies: A Creative Ethnography of Syrian Refugee Children in Lebanon’, Research Assistant, £10,000.

The Sue Grant Service Award 2015/16 - Joint winner with my dear friends and colleagues at LIVED.

04/2016. University of Edinburgh School of Social and Political Sciences Conference Fund, £350.

12/2015. University of Edinburgh School of Social and Political Sciences Conference Fund, £300.

10/2013. Univeristy of Edinburgh Innovation Initiative Grant.

Teaching Award Nominations:

Nominated for Best Course&Best Tutor: Sustainable Development 1A, Fall 2013
Nominated (2) for Best Tutor: Sociology 1A, Fall 2014
Nominated (2) for Best Tutor: Sustainable Development 1A, Fall 2014
Nominated for Best Student who Teaches: Sociology 1B, Spring 2015
Nominated (3) for Best Student who Teaches: Globalisation, Spring 2016
Nominated (2) for Best Personal Tutor: Globalisation, Spring 2016
Nominated (3) for Best Student Who Teaches: Key Concepts in Global Social Change (MSc), Fall 2017


Tutor: Key Concepts in Global Social Change (MSc) Fall 2017

Senior Tutor: Sustainable Development (UG) Fall 2017

Tutor: Key Concepts in Global Social Change (MSc) Fall 2016

Tutor: Globalization (Honours/MSc), Fall 2015

Tutor: Sustainable Development 1A (UG), Fall 2014; Fall 2015

Tutor: Sociology 1B (UG), Spring 2014

Tutor: Sociology 1A (UG), Fall 2013; Fall 2014

Senior Tutor: Sustainable Development 1A, Fall 2013

Guest Lecturing:

South Asian Studies (2b) Spring, 2015
Sustainable Development (1a) Fall, 2015
International Perspectives on Education and Training (MSc) Fall, 2015
Contemporary Social Issues: Refugees and Displacement (Honours) Spring, 2016
Gender and Development (MSc/Honours) Spring, 2017
Migration: Social Origins and Social Consequences (Honours) Spring, 2017

Co-course organiser:

Contemporary Issues in Sociology: Refugees and Displacement (SCIL10080, Spring, 2016)

Publications and Conferences:

  • 2016. Holmes, M., Anderson, D., Baxter, K., Dakessian, A., Hamel, M. E., Langer, J., Riga, L. ‘Emotion in the Intimate Lives of Internally Displaced Children in Bogota’, Paper presented at the BSA Conference, Aston University, 6-8 April 2016.
  • 2014. Baxter, K. ‘The Potentials of Synergising Educational Knowledges: Ecological Education Practices and Plural Sustainabilities in Nepal’, Paper Presented at Planning for Climate Change Transdisciplinary Conference, University of London, UCL. 4-6 Dec.
  • 2013. 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.
  • Book Review: Connolly, W. (2013) The Fragility of Things: Self-Organizing Processes, Neoliberal Fantasies, and Democratic Activism. Duke University Press. Forthcoming.

Additional Involvement:

Research Assitant : 2015-2017. ‘Childhoods, Networks and Dispersed Intimacies: A Creative Ethnography of Syrian Refugee Children in Lebanon’, conduct participatory research on the emotional lives of Syrian refugee youth in Beirut, University of Edinburgh.

Columnist: Impakter Magazine:

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:

Professional Memberships                                                                                                        

  • Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, University of Edinburgh
  • British-Nepal Academic Council
  • University of Edinburgh Sustainable Development Society
  • University of Edinburgh Peace and Conflict Group
  • The Curriculum Reform Forum, Colorado, USA


BSc in Human Development; Minor in International Development and Economics, Colorado State University/CU Boulder (2012)

MRes in Sociology, the Univeristy of Edinburgh (2013)