School of Education News

Alum Thangaraj to receive dissertation award from the Comparative and International Education Society

March 18, 2019
UW-Madison alumna Miriam Thangaraj is this year's recipient of the Gail P. Kelly Dissertation Award from the Comparative and International Education Society. 

Thangaraj earned her Ph.D. from the School of Education's Department of Educational Policy Studies in 2018.

Thangaraj's dissertation examines global policy efforts to combat child labor on the historical silk hand-looms of Kanchipuram, India, by moving children off of the looms and into schools.

Her dissertation, "Silk, School, and Special Economic Zones (SEZs): The reconstruction of childhood education and labor in Kanchipuram, India," is based on over two years of ethnographic research funded in part by the Social Science Research Council International Dissertation Fellowship. She also received the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship to support the dissertation and writing.

Over Thangaraj's two years of fieldwork, she followed child apprentices on the loom as they were "rescued and rehabilitated" in schools. In the process she found many children were dislocated into assembly-line spaces of SEZs and into the transient spaces of the local gig economy. 

Through mapping children's shifting spaces, trajectories, aspirations, and rights in Kanchipuram, and analyzing them with respect to child labor censuses and hand-looms databases, Thangaraj unpacks the right to formal education in policy, practice, and effect.

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