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Durham University

Department of Anthropology

Social Anthropology Members

Dr Rachel Shah, BA, MA

Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology

Contact Dr Rachel Shah (email at


Rachel recently completed her ESRC-funded doctoral research into education, indigenous knowledge, and the use of primary schooling as a tool of international development. She is interested in alternative forms of education, in the prevalence and prominence of schooling as a model of education and in how formal education is presented, perceived and evaluated by indigenous stakeholders and development professionals.

Previously, she obtained a Masters in Research Methods (Anthropology) from Durham University whilst running a charity for children and young people in North Peckham.

PhD Research

Rachel’s research is about education - including indigenous knowledge education and formal schooling - in a Walak speaking area of the Papuan highlands. She is particularly interested in the interaction between different education paradigms, and in the spaces that surround and shape schooling in community life and what they can tell us about the unexamined effects of introducing formal schooling as an education medium to a rural indigenous community. Rachel uses both qualitative and quantitative methods in her work.


Rachel is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and is currently on track to becoming a full Fellow. As well as undertaking invited lectures on her research she tutors on undergraduate courses such as:

  • Introduction to Anthropological Theory and Methods
  • People and Cultures
  • Methods and Analysis
  • Cultures and Classification

Research Groups

Research Interests

  • Development and social change
  • Education & indigenous knowledge
  • Sustainability
  • Children's Development and Learning
  • Participatory approaches to research & development
  • Indonesia
  • Melanesia

Selected Publications

Chapter in book

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