The Culture Trap, with Sociologist Derron Wallace (EF, JP)


In this episode, Elizabeth and John talk with Derron Wallace, sociologist of education and Brandeis colleague, about his new book The Culture Trap: Ethnic Expectations and Unequal Schooling for Black Youth (Oxford UP, 2023), which explores "ethnic expectations" for Caribbean schoolchildren in New York and London. His work starts with the basic puzzle that while black Caribbean schoolchildren in New York are often considered as "high-achieving," in London, they have been, conversely thought to be "chronically underachieving." Yet in each case the main cause -- of high achievement in New York and low achievement in London -- is said to be cultural. We discuss the concept of "ethnic expectations" and the ways it can have negative effects even when the expectations themselves are positive, and the dense intertwining of race, class, nation, colonial status, and gender, and the travels of the concept of culture in the 20th and 21st centuries.

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Elizabeth Ferry and John Plotz

Free-ranging discussion of books from the past that cast a sideways light on today's world. Recall This Book is hosted by Elizabeth Ferry, Professor of Anthropology at Brandeis University and John Plotz, Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative.

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