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CEHD and U of M Word Marks


330 Wulling Hall
86 Pleasant Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Fax: 612-624-3377

Undergraduate Studies:

Graduate Studies:



Peter Demerath

Associate Professor

Ed.D., University of Massachusetts
M.A., University of Pennsylvania
B.A., Haverford College

410G Wulling Hall
86 Pleasant St S E

Tel: 612/626-0768

Download Curriculum Vitae [PDF]

Areas of Interest

Educational anthropology
Comparative study of class culture and education
Urban education
School-university partnerships
Research methodology


Demerath completes UMN GPS Alliance-Sponsored outreach trip to Papua New Guinea - Extended write up with pictures [PDF]


My inquiry and teaching are animated by an abiding interest in illuminating the cultural basis of everyday educational practices. My scholarship is informed by the disciplinary perspective of anthropology and the methods of ethnography. Ideally, it constitutes a way of "seeing" that attempts to reconstruct the cultural logic of how individuals and groups formulate educational problems and respond to them. Throughout, my work seeks to contribute both to scholarly understandings of educational phenomena and to recommendations for policy and practice.

My major research interest is the role of class culture in the perpetuation of social inequality through education. My concentration has largely been on the meanings high school students construct that shape their approach to school and their aspirations. My research investigates these processes in comparative perspective, internationally (Papua New Guinea) and in the United States, with broad consideration of local contextual features. I use the methods of cultural anthropology: ethnographic fieldwork along with grounded surveys examined with descriptive and analytic statistics.

I draw on my ethnographic experience to infuse my courses with comparative resources for illuminating cultural dimensions of American life, and for teaching about race/ethnicity, politics, and equity in education. As an anthropologist I encourage all of my students to question their taken-for-granted cultural assumptions about schooling in order to contribute to educational renewal in a variety of ways.


  • Ohio State University College of Education Distinguished Teaching Award (2005)
  • Comparative and International Education Society George Z. F. Bereday Outstanding Scholarship Award (1999)

Professional Memberships

Selected Publications

  1. Demerath, P. (2009). Producing success: The culture of personal advancement in an American high school. University of Chicago Press.

  2. Demerath, P., Lynch, J., Milner, R., Peters, A., & Davidson, M. (in press). Decoding success: A middle-class logic of individual advancement in a U.S. suburb and high school. Teachers College Record.

  3. Demerath, P., Lynch, J., & Davidson, M. (2008). Dimensions of psychological capital in a U.S. suburb: Identities for neoliberal times. Anthropology & Education Quarterly 39(3).

  4. Demerath, P. (2006). The science of context: Modes of response for qualitative researchers in education. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 19(1), 97-113.

  5. Demerath, P. (2001). The social cost of acting "extra:" Students’ moral judgments of self, social relations, and academic success in Papua New Guinea. American Journal of Education 108(3).

  6. Demerath, P. (1999). The cultural production of educational utility in Pere Village, Papua New Guinea. Comparative Education Review 43(2).