Professor Profiles


Alexandre Da Costa, PhD

Assistant Professor (Theoretical, Cultural and International Studies in Education)


Educational Policy Studies

About Me

I received my PhD in 2009 from the Department of Development Sociology at Cornell University in New York State (USA). Prior to taking up my current tenure track position at the U of A in Educational Policy Studies, I taught courses in Development Studies, Cultural Studies, and Sociology at Queen’s University in Kingston. I also held a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Social Justice Education Department at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto. My program specialization in Educational Policy Studies is in Theoretical, Cultural and International Studies in Education (TCI). 


Research Interests

• Race, Knowledge, and Culture within Global Capitalist Development
• Racism and Racial Ideologies 
• Anti-Racism and Decolonization 
• The Politics of Knowledge in Education
• Activism and Community Movements
• Development Studies and Education

    Research Description

    My research focuses on various areas including: race and racism, racial ideologies, cultural politics, the politics of knowledge, decoloniality, education, state policy, and development in the Americas. I have worked with Black movement organizations in Brazil and their efforts to address societal racism via community activism around education and other state policies directed at Afro-descendants. My book, Reimagining Black Difference and Politics in Brazil: From Racial Democracy to Multiculturalism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) analyzes in depth the work of the Centro Cultural Orùnmilá in the state of São Paulo in relation to these questions. Focusing on the epistemic dimensions of their political work as well as state anti-racist pluricultural efforts more broadly, I explore the ways black activists and organizations negotiate and seek to go beyond the delimited understandings of racial difference, belonging, and citizenship that shape the contemporary politics of inclusion. My analysis of what I term “the decolonial in practice” reveals the difficulties and possibilities involved in creating social transformation given the stubborn and ongoing power of anti-black racism and post-racial ideology. 

    More recently, I have extended my examination to what I broadly call “post-racial ideology” in its various forms, starting with situating miscigenação (miscegenation or mestizaje) and racial democracy in Brazil within the broader, hemispheric history of post-racial thinking. I am also in the process of situating both Brazil and Canada relationally in terms of post-racial thinking in the Americas, not as comparison but as a means to trace the often similar ways in which racism gets both practiced and denied in everyday interactions, public discourse, state ideologies, and societal institutions. The overall goal of this work is to map the ideologies and practices that sustain racism denial and to identify as well as address their effects at various levels both inside the education system (primary, secondary, and higher education) as well as among community activists and organizations engaged in such work. 

    In a related, but different project, I continue to focus on anti-racist and multi-/pluricultural curriculum reforms in Brazil as well as the various forms “multicultural” discourses have taken within institutions and policy in other Latin American countries as well as Canada. While I mainly focus on black, white, and mixed-race populations, I am also very interested in Indigenous struggles around state policy in this regard as well as black-Indigenous alliances. I am currently analyzing several efforts by individual schools and programs implementing curriculum reforms and considering their implications in relation to histories of anti-black racism and coloniality within “modernity”.  


    • Racial ideologies, anti-Black racism, schooling, and education policy in Brazil and Canada

    • Post-racial Ideologies and Anti-racist activism, pedagogy, and learning in Education 

    • Race, Culture, and Creative Economy in Brazil

    Supervisory Interests

    I am interested in supervising students who would like to focus on the ways in which race, ethnicity, gender, and their intersections shape issues of racialization, white supremacy, and privilege in educational, state, and community institutions and/or social movement activism. I especially encourage those interested in research on anti-racist and/or multicultural related reforms in primary, secondary, and tertiary education as well as social justice, anti- or de-colonial perspectives in general to make an inquiry. I would also like to work with students taking a critical approach on global development issues and processes and any other related topic that fits within my broader areas of supervision listed below. 


    My areas of supervision include race, ethnicity, and racism; critical multiculturalism and/or interculturalidad; anti-racisms and multiculturalisms within education policy; the politics of global development; critical approaches to development and international education; intersections between culture, race, and political-economic processes; coloniality and decoloniality in theory and practice; contemporary social and cultural theory. 

    My key countries/regions of interest include (but are not limited to): Brazil, Latin America, Canada, and the United States.


    EDPS 501-X04. Knowledge and Decoloniality in the Americas

    EDPS 591. Foundations of Education: Perspectives on International Issues

    EDPS 523. Education and Development Theory

    EDPS 526. Race, Racialization, and Education

    EDPS 563. Education from a Sociological Perspective

    EDPS 360. Society and Education