Ameena Ghaffar-Kucher

Senior Lecturer
Associate Director, International Educational Development Program

Education, Culture, and Society Division

Graduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania

Phone: 215-898-5004

Email: agk@gse.upenn.edu

Professional Biography

Dr. Ghaffar-Kucher began her graduate studies in the field of School Psychology, earning a Professional Diploma in School Psychology and a Masters in the Psychology of Bilingual Students from Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education (New York). As a school psychologist intern, she worked with struggling Indian immigrant students at a public high school in Rockland County, New York. She further developed her interest in immigrant youth during her studies at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she pursued a doctorate in International Educational Development. At Teachers College, she served as the ethnographer for the Muslim Youth in New York City Project (funded by the Ford Foundation) and was also part of the research team for the African Muslim Immigrants Literacy Initiative (AMILI). She was also a member of the editorial board of Current Issues in Comparative Education for three years.

Dr. Ghaffar-Kucher's work has received national recognition: She was a finalist for the Council on Anthropology and Education's 2008 Outstanding Dissertation Award. Her article on Afghan refugees in Pakistan was a selected reading for the Clinton Global Initiative (2009). In 2010, she was awarded the Council on Anthropology and Education’s Presidential Early Career Fellowship. Most recently, she was awarded (with Lesley Bartlett) the 2014 Jackie Kirk Outstanding Book Award from the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) for her co-edited volume, Refugees, Immigrants and Education in the Global South: Lives in Motion (Routledge Research). Dr. Ghaffar-Kucher has developed and taught courses at Drexel University and Teachers College, Columbia University.

Research Interests and Current Projects

Dr. Ghaffar-Kucher's research spans several countries. Within the United States, her research focuses on the educational and socialization experiences of immigrant youth. She has worked specifically with working- and lower-middle-class Pakistani-immigrant youth in New York City, exploring how gender-based expectations, class differences, and age on arrival influence youths’ notions of citizenship and belonging. Along with two colleagues from Teachers College, Columbia University, she has recently completed an anti-bullying resource pack for educators that targets the bullying of South-Asian American youth "In the Face of Xenophobia: Lessons to Address Bullying of South-Asian Youth". She was also a co-investigator for the SSRC's "Our Shared Past" Grant in which she worked with scholars from six different universities on a curriculum project titled "Rethinking the Region: New Approaches to 9-12 US Curriculum on the "Modern Middle East." Currently, she is an advisory board member for MTV's Look Different Campaign, which aims to give youth tools to be able to discuss and respond to (hidden) biases in society.

Dr. Ghaffar-Kucher’s other areas of research pertain to issues of educational access, equity and quality, particularly in the context of Pakistan, as well other Muslim majority countries more broadly. Within these contexts, she is especially interested in understanding how educational policies are appropriated at the local level, specifically in terms of policies relating to curriculum and pedagogy. Relatedly, her practitioner work has focused on teachers' professional development in Pakistan. She has worked on "USAID's Pre-STEP project "in Pakistan, which seeks to overhaul pre-service teacher education throughout the country. Currently, she is a  researcher for a comparative study of constructions of citizenship in curricular discourse in Pakistan and Turkey.

Selected Publications

Ghaffar-Kucher, A. "Assimilation". In D. C. Phillips (Ed). Encyclopedia of Educational Theory and Philosophy. Sage, 2014.

Ghaffar-Kucher, A. “Narrow-minded and oppressive" or a “superior culture”? Implications of Divergent Representations of Islam for Pakistani-American Youth. Race Ethnicity and Education. 2014.

Bartlett, L. & Ghaffar-Kucher, A. : Introduction. In L. Bartlett & A. Ghaffar-Kucher, (eds.). Refugees, Immigrants, and Education in the Global South: Lives in Motion. Routledge Research, 2013.

Bartlett, L. & Ghaffar-Kucher, A. (Eds.)Refugees, immigrants, and education in the Global South: Lives in Motion. Routledge Research, 2013.

Bajaj, M., Ghaffar-Kucher, A. & Desai, K.In the face of Xenophobia: Lessons to address the bullying of South Asian youth. SAALT. South-Asian Americans Leadership Together, Washington DC. April 2013.

Ghaffar-Kucher, A.The religification of Pakistani-American Youth. American Educational Research Journal, 2012.

Ghaffar-Kucher, A. & Mahajan, A.: Salaam! Namaste!: Indian and Pakistani Community Based Efforts Towards Heritage Language Maintenance. Multilingualism and community education in New York City. Ofelia Garcia, Zeena Zakharia, & Bahar Otcu (eds.). Multilingual Matters, 2012.

Ghaffar-Kucher, A.Citizenship and Belonging in an Age of Insecurity: Pakistani Immigrant Youth in New York City.Critical Approaches to Comparative Education: Vertical Case Studies from Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. Frances Vavrus & Lesley Bartlett (Eds.) (eds.). Palgrave, 2009.

Ghaffar-Kucher, A.: Book Review: Linguistic Minorities and Modernity: A Sociolinguistic Ethnography by Monica Heller (2nd Edition). Langauge Policy. Springer, 8(1), 2009.

Ghaffar-Kucher, A.Editorial Introduction: (Re)Framing the Education of Immigrants Current Issues in Comparative Education 9(1), December 2006.

Ghaffar-Kucher, A.The Effects of Repatriation on Education in Afghan Refugee Camps in Pakistan Education in Emergencies and Post-Conflict Situations: Problems, Responses and Possibilities, Vol.2. Dana Burde (eds.). May 2005.