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Heather Switzer

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Assistant Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 6403
Assistant Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 6403
Asst Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 6403
Asst Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 6403
Biography

Heather Switzer received her PhD. in Public and International Affairs with a graduate certificate in Women's Studies from Virginia Tech in December 2009. Switzer joined ASU's faculty in Women and Gender Studies in the School for Social Transformation in 2010. Her interdisciplinary training combined three fields: critical development studies, critical globalization studies, and gender studies with an emphasis on contemporary Sub-Saharan Africa. Her current research on contemporary girlhood(s) in a global context is informed and framed by feminist humanistic social sciences theoretical and methodological approaches. Her primary research sites are in Maasai communities of southern Kenya. Switzer is also an RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer) who served in Ethiopia, '98-'99. She lives in Tempe with her husband, David, a 5th grade geography teacher.

Research Interests

 

Professor Switzer is currently revising her book manuscript entitled School Girls: Gender, Education and Identity in Modern Kenya. Based on a coordinated interdisciplinary study of the idea of the schoolgirl and insights and perspectives from real schoolgirls, School Girls seeks to initiate discussion and debate about the broader discursive (including material practice) landscape forged by neoliberal development regimes, postfeminism as an enduring (if erroneous) frame for contemporary gender dynamics, and education as a transnational processes rather than a neutral public good. Centering on qualitative data based on immersive study (interviews with schoolgirls, mothers, teacher and elders) in Maasai communities of southern Kenya, School Girls at once foregrounds schoolgirls' desires and tries to grapple with the ways in which these expressed desires are always already framed by 'postfeminist development fables' (Switzer, forthcoming 2013) that leverage ideas of adolescent female agency, carve out actual spaces of and for agency, and also close off agency as well.

Additional research includes analyses of the discursive economy of the Nike Foundation's three viral videos at the center of The Girl Effect.org (forthcoming in a special issue of Feminist Theory with guest editors Jessica Ringrose and Emma Renold in December 2013). Also, an articulation and elaboration of the "principle of oppositionality" that currently frames the new subfield of Girls' Studies in which girls and young women in the West are  positioned, relative to "the rest" of the world's girls, as categorical winners in a gender-equal developed world whereas "Other" girls are positioned as victims to be saved (work in progress with Emily Bent, The College of New Jersey). 

Professor Switzer teaches undergraduate and graduate courses focused on girlhood in a global context, transnational feminist activism and globalization, and feminist methodologies. She is co-chair, along with Emily Bent and Amy Traver, of the Girls' Studies caucus at NWSA (the National Women's Studies Association). She is dissertation co-chair to doctoral students Rachel Reinke and Anastasia Todd (both pursing research on aspects of contemporary girlhood) and dissertation committee member for doctoral candidate Kate Harper.

Publications
  • Switzer, Heather. "(Post)Feminist Development Fables: The Girl Effect and the Production of Sexual Subjects.". Feminist Theory (2013).
  • Switzer, Heather. Disruptive Discourses: Kenyan Maasai Girls Make Themselves. Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal (2010).
Summer 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
WST 499Individualized Instruction
WST 690Reading and Conference
WST 790Reading and Conference
WST 792Research
WST 799Dissertation
Spring 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
WST 378Global Feminist Theory
WST 492Honors Directed Study
WST 493Honors Thesis
WST 498Pro-Seminar
WST 499Individualized Instruction
WST 590Reading and Conference
WST 592Research
WST 593Applied Project
WST 599Thesis
WST 603Engendering Methodology
WST 690Reading and Conference
WST 790Reading and Conference
WST 792Research
WST 799Dissertation
Fall 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
WST 421Girlhood and Adolescence
WST 492Honors Directed Study
WST 493Honors Thesis
WST 498Pro-Seminar
WST 499Individualized Instruction
WST 592Research
WST 593Applied Project
WST 599Thesis
WST 640Visual & Narrative Culture
WST 690Reading and Conference
WST 790Reading and Conference
WST 792Research
WST 799Dissertation
Summer 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
WST 499Individualized Instruction
WST 690Reading and Conference
WST 790Reading and Conference
WST 792Research
WST 799Dissertation
Spring 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
WST 378Global Feminist Theory
WST 492Honors Directed Study
WST 493Honors Thesis
WST 499Individualized Instruction
WST 603Engendering Methodology
WST 690Reading and Conference
WST 790Reading and Conference
WST 792Research
WST 799Dissertation
Fall 2015
Course NumberCourse Title
WST 191First-Year Seminar
WST 421Girlhood and Adolescence
WST 492Honors Directed Study
WST 493Honors Thesis
WST 499Individualized Instruction
WST 690Reading and Conference
WST 790Reading and Conference
WST 792Research
WST 799Dissertation
Summer 2015
Course NumberCourse Title
WST 790Reading and Conference
Spring 2015
Course NumberCourse Title
WST 421Girlhood and Adolescence
WST 492Honors Directed Study
WST 493Honors Thesis
WST 499Individualized Instruction
WST 603Engendering Methodology
WST 690Reading and Conference
WST 790Reading and Conference
WST 792Research
WST 799Dissertation
Fall 2014
Course NumberCourse Title
WST 492Honors Directed Study
WST 493Honors Thesis
WST 498Pro-Seminar
WST 499Individualized Instruction
WST 640Visual & Narrative Culture
WST 690Reading and Conference
WST 790Reading and Conference
WST 792Research
WST 799Dissertation
Summer 2014
Course NumberCourse Title
WST 790Reading and Conference
Spring 2014
Course NumberCourse Title
WST 492Honors Directed Study
WST 493Honors Thesis
WST 499Individualized Instruction
WST 603Engendering Methodology
WST 690Reading and Conference
WST 790Reading and Conference
WST 792Research
WST 799Dissertation
Fall 2013
Course NumberCourse Title
WST 100Women, Gender, and Society
WST 421Girlhood and Adolescence
WST 492Honors Directed Study
WST 690Reading and Conference
Summer 2013
Course NumberCourse Title
WST 790Reading and Conference
Spring 2013
Course NumberCourse Title
WST 492Honors Directed Study
WST 493Honors Thesis
WST 498Pro-Seminar
WST 499Individualized Instruction
WST 603Engendering Methodology
WST 690Reading and Conference
WST 790Reading and Conference
WST 792Research
WST 799Dissertation
Fall 2012
Course NumberCourse Title
WST 492Honors Directed Study
WST 493Honors Thesis
WST 691Seminar
WST 790Reading and Conference
Presentations
  • Switzer, Heather. "Girls’ Studies in the United States and Abroad". National WOmen's Studies Association annual meeting (Nov 2013).
  • Switzer, Heather. "Moving Targets: the sexual economy of schooling and limit(s) of schoolgirl agency,". African Studies Association annual meeting (Nov 2013).
  • Heather Switzer and Larisa Warhol. "In Her Mother(’s) Tongue: Language Use, Gender Identity and Education in Kenya’s Maasailand,". Western Regional Comparative and International Education Society Western Regional Conference, Octobe (Oct 2012).
  • Heather, Switzer and Emily Bent. "When Girl Meets Girl Child: A Critical Literature Review of Girlhoods in a Global Context,". National Women’s Studies Association annual meeting, Oakland, CA, November 2012 (Sep 2012).
  • Larisa Warhol and Heather Switzer. "School(ing) Girls: Localizing Transnational Gender Identities in Kenya’s Maasailand,". American Association for Applied Linguistics 2012 Conference, Boston, Massachusetts, March 24-27, 20 (May 2012).
  • Heather Switzer. paper: "Girl Effects: Feminist Fables or Cautionary Tales?" panel: "The Clock is Ticking": (Re)Thinking "The Girl Effect". National Women's Studies Association Annual Conference (Sep 2011).
  • Switzer, Heather. "Examining the "New" Enkanyakuai: Localizing the Schooling Imperative and Producing Gender Categories in Southern Kenya’s Maasailand". African Studies Association, 53rd Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, November 18-22, 2010 (Oct 2010).
  • Switzer, Heather. "How the Schooling Imperative Effects Local Gender Categories". 10th Annual Africa Conference 2010: Women, Gender, and Sexualities in Africa (Mar 2010).
Service
  • National Women's Studies Association Girls's Studies Caucus, Member (2010 - Present)
  • DREAMzone Alley, DREAMzone Alley (2013 - 2015)
  • National Women's Studies Association Girls and Girls' Studies Caucus, Co-chair (2012 - 2015)
  • National Women's Studies Association Girls' Studies Caucus, I am an elected co-chair of the Girls' Studies Caucus (2012 - 2014)
  • Theory & Methods Committee., member (2012 - 2014)
  • Fulbright Review Committee for Students Applying to Africa, member (2013 - 2013)
  • Graudate Committee, committee member of each (2012 - 2013)
  • Fulbright Review Committee for Students Applying to Africa, Member (2012 - 2012)
  • Undergraduate Honors Faculty Advisor, My role as HFA continues in the same manner as last year. (2011 - 2012)
  • Undergraduate Faculty Honors Advisor, Advisor (2010 - 2012)
  • Undergraduate Honors Faculty Advisor, Meet each semester with other HFAs, promote WGS courses among honors students, advise WGS honors majors and minors, teach WGS courses for Barrett (2010 - 2012)
  • Instructor Review Committee, Member (2012 - 2012)