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Iveta Silova

Director, Center for Advanced Studies in Global Education; Professor
Faculty w/Admin Appointment, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 1811
Director & Professor
Faculty w/Admin Appointment, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 1811
Director & Professor
Faculty w/Admin Appointment, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 1811
Faculty Affiliate
Faculty w/Admin Appointment, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 1811

Iveta Silova is professor and director of the Center for the Advanced Studies in Global Education at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at ASU. 

Born and raised in Soviet Latvia, Professor Silova has a unique first-hand experience of the events leading up to the breakdown of the Soviet Union. Since then, she has been fascinated with learning how different countries have responded to the postsocialist transformations. Her research has aimed to reveal the multiple meanings and processes of postsocialist education transformations through numerous articles and books, including Childhood and Schooling in (Post)Socialist Societies: Memories of Everyday Life (2018), How NGOs React (2008), Globalization on the Margins (2011), and Postsocialism is not Dead (2010). By contesting a common expectation that postsocialist societies would inevitably converge towards Western norms (through the mechanisms of international development), these edited volumes and her related research conceptually (re)frame postsocialism as open, plural, and inevitably uncertain. More broadly, Professor Silova's research raises a series of important questions:

  • What rationalities underpin the logic and define the purpose of education transformations in various postsocialist contexts? How are global norms actually understood, experienced, and interpreted in postsocialist contexts? And, more broadly, how do postsocialist imaginaries function to simultaneously promote and challenge global norms?
  • How can we (re)imagine research and methods to articulate new theoretical insights about postsocialist education transformations in the context of globalization?
  • How can we move beyond Western epistemologies to decolonize knowledge production and being? 

Before coming to ASU, Professor Silova was a professor at Lehigh University for seven years. Prior to her academic work in the U.S., she worked as an education researcher and adviser for various international organizations, including UNICEF, UNESCO, USAID, and the Open Society Institute/Soros Foundations. She has spent seven years living and working in various countries of the former Soviet Union, including Central Asia (Kazakhstan), the Caucasus (Azerbaijan), and Belarus. Her long-term goal is to continue to bridge the traditional theory/practice dichotomy by engaging in meaningful and ethical collaborations between academics, policymakers, and education practioners in different "development" contexts.

  • Ph.D. Comparative Education and History/Political Science (with distinction), Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Columbia University 2002    
  • M. Phil., International and Comparative Education, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Columbia University 2000
  • M.Ed., International and Comparative Education, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Columbia University 1997
  • M.A., Education Administration and Leadership, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Columbia University 1996
  • Harriman Institute Certificate in the advanced interdisciplinary study of the Russian Empire, 1999-2002
  • B.A., Linguistics and Foundations of Education, University of Latvia, Riga 1994
The Futures of Post-Socialist Childhoods: (Re)Imagining the Latvian Child, Nation, and Nature in Educational Literature
Research Interests
  • Globalization and policy transfer in education; the politics and economics of educational ‘borrowing/lending’
  • Public policy efforts addressing social inequalities, including gender equity trends, cultural and ethnolinguistic issues, and privatization trends in public education (e.g., shadow education)
  • Postsocialist education transformations in Eastern and Central Europe and the former Soviet Union, including historical dimensions, political processes, as well as knowledge production and transfer
  • Intersections of postsocialism and postcolonialism; decoloniality of knowledge production and being
  • Social construction of childhoods, cultural politics of childhoods, as well as notions of place/space of childhoods 
  • Collective biography, memory work, life-writing


Research Activity

Memories of (Post)Socialist Childhood and Schooling (2014-present)

Research Team: Iveta Silova, Zsuzsa Millei, and Nelli Piattoeva

This research project focuses on memories of socialist childhood written by cultural insiders who were brought up and educated on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain, spanning from Central Europe to mainland Asia. It enables participants to explore - collectively and individually - their own experiences of Soviet/socialist education and childhood by analyzing lived experiences, memories, and artifacts of socialist childhood and schooling. The goal is to make visible to ourselves as researchers how we have mastered (and been mastered by) particular theories and understandings of (post)socialist transition, education, and childhood. Our memories offer insights into the manifold nature of childhoods that cannot be simply reduced to an ideological oppression exercised through socialist state control or official school curriculum and pedagogy. Rather, these evocative memory stories illuminate the diverse spaces of childhoods interweaving with broader political, economic, and social life. They also highlight the multiple ways of becoming and being children in historical contexts that are far more ambiguous than previously acknowledged. Drawing on the research traditions of autobiography, autoethnography, and collective biography, we challenge what is often considered “normal” and “natural” in the historical accounts of socialist childhoods and engage in (re)writing histories that rub against traditional imaginaries of Cold War divisions between the East and West.

Research project website: Decolonial and De-Cold War Dialogues on Childhood and Schooling


Rethinking Theory and Methods for Educational Research in(Post)Socialist Contexts (2014-present)

Research Team: Iveta Silova, Noah Sobe, Alla Korzh, Serhiy Kovalchuk

This research project explores the shifting social imaginaries of post-socialist transformations to understand what happens when the new and old utopias of post-socialism confront the new and old utopias of social science. It addresses the theoretical, methodological, and ethical dilemmas encountered by researchers in the social sciences as they plan and conduct education research in post-socialist settings, as well as disseminate their research ndings. Through an interdisciplinary inquiry that spans the elds of education, political science, sociology, anthropology, and history, the book explores three broad questions: How can we (re)imagine research to articulate new theoretical insights about post-socialist education transformations in the context of globalization? How can we (re)imagine methods to pursue alternative ways of producing knowledge? And how can we navigate various ethical dilemmas in light of academic expectations and eldwork realities? Drawing on case studies, conceptual and theoretical essays, autoethnographic accounts, as well as synthetic introductory and conclusion chapters by the editors, this project brings together scholars and education practitioners to advance an important conversation about these complicated questions in geopolitical settings ranging from post-socialist Africa to Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The contributors not only expose the limits of Western conceptual frameworks and research methods for understanding post-socialist transformations, but also engage creatively in addressing the persisting problems of knowledge hierarchies created by abstract universals, epistemic difference, and geographical distance inherent in comparative and international education research. This research project questions the existing education narratives and rethink taken-for-granted beliefs, theoretical paradigms, and methodological frameworks in order to reimagine the world in more complex and pluriversal ways. 


Education Merit on a Global Scale: The History and Conceptualization of Merit and Educational Meritocracy in China, Italy, Russia and the United States

Research Team: Noah W. Sobe (Univeristy of Loyola Chicago, Principal Investigator), Iveta Silova (Arizona State University), Giovanna Barzanò (University of Rome III), and Jinting Wu (University of Buffalo) 

According to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, primary education is a fundamental human right. Higher education, however, is to be accessible to all on the basis of ‘merit.’ Yet, merit does not have a globally homogenous meaning. What is recognized as ‘merit’ is a cultural and historical production that produces certain ‘kinds’ of human beings and consequential forms of inclusion and exclusion. This research investigates how education systems in China, Italy, Russia and the United States sought to produce educational merit across the 20th century. Though what counts as merit is deeply local and exhibits intra-national variations, educational merit has also long been conceptualized against a global horizon of comparison and international competition -- from the World’s Fair era, through the Cold War, to today’s international assessments and efforts to produce global citizens and globally competent workforces. This historical study is aiming to offer a new way of thinking about globalization and education that sees global forms as produced by local actors. By seeking to illuminate the ways that education reformers in China, Italy, Russia and the United States have historically sought to create education systems that successfully measure and mobilize merit against a global horizon of comparison and international competition, our project represents a profound re-thinking of the connection between globalization and education.  




Spring 2019
Course NumberCourse Title
EPA 790Reading and Conference
EPA 792Research
Fall 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
EPA 691Seminar
EPA 790Reading and Conference
EPA 792Research
Spring 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
EPA 691Seminar
Fall 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
EPA 691Seminar
EPA 790Reading and Conference
EPA 792Research
Spring 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
EPA 691Seminar
Fall 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
EPA 691Seminar
Spring 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
EPA 691Seminar
Honors / Awards

Comparative and International Education Society (CIES), George Bereday Award (2013) for the best article published in Comparative Education Review, co-authored with Stephen Carney and Jeremy Rappleye, "Between Faith and Science: World Culture Theory and Comparative Education," which makes a unique contribution to the development of the field of comparative and international education.

United Nations (UN) Best Practice Award (2013) for innovative teaching about the UN and inspiring students to act on the issues of global concern. Presented by CTAUN, a non-profit devoted to providing opportunities for educators to learn, understand and appreciate the work of the UN, and incorporate global awareness into curricula and education activities at all levels.

Best Book Award from the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies (2008) for From Sites of Occupation to Symbols of Multicultural: Re-conceptualizing Minority Education in Post-Soviet Latvia (Information Age Publishing, 2006), an award for an outstanding English-language scholarly book in Baltic Studies (humanities and social sciences) published in 2006 or 2007.


Co-editor (with Noah W. Sobe), European Education: Issues and Studies, a quarterly, peer-reviewed journal published by Taylor & Francis. The journal is affiliated with the Comparative Education Society of Europe (CESE) and features original inquires and dialogue on education across the member states of the Council of Europe as well as the impact of European education initiatives globally.

Associate Editor, Education Policy Analysis Archives, a peer-reviewed, open-access, international, multilingual, and multidisciplinary journal designed for researchers, practitioners, policy makers, and development analysts concerned with education policies.    


Membership on Journal Editorial and Advisory Boards

International Studies in Sociology of Education 

Research in Comparative and International Education

Intercultural Education

Journal of Supranational Studies in Education

Professional Associations

American Education Research Association (AERA), Comparative and International Education Society (CIES), Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies (AABS)