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Samara Madrid Akpovo

Associate Professor, Director of the Intercultural and Classroom Culture Research Lab


Samara Madrid Akpovo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Child and Family Studies at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Her research has focused on the emotional lives of adults and children in early childhood classrooms using collaborative ethnographic methods along with feminist and post-structural frameworks. A central theme in her research has been to challenge and deconstruct normative ways of being, feeling, and knowing with young children and teachers in diverse social and cultural contexts. Her research also examines early childhood pre-service teachers’ development of cross-cultural and intercultural understanding during international field experiences in Nepal.


  • Emotional lives of children and adults in early childhood classrooms
  • Peer and school cultures/classroom ethnography
  • Qualitative cross-cultural research and discourse analysis
  • Preservice teachers’ intercultural knowledge and experiences within international contexts (i.e., Nepal)


  • Ph.D., Teaching and Learning: Early Childhood Education, The Ohio State University, 2007
  • M.A., Experimental Psychology, San Jose State University, 2000
  • B.A., Psychology, University of Hawaii-Hilo, 1998

Curriculum Vitae

Awards and Recognitions

  • Global Catalyst Program Funding, The University of Tennessee, Center for Global Engagement, Office of Research and Engagement, 2019 - (29,997).
    • In collaboration with The University of Auckland, New Zealand, The University of Melbourne, Australia and The University of Wyoming, USA.
  • Office of Community Engagement and Outreach 2019-20 Incentive Grant Funding, Office of Research and Engagement, The University of Tennessee, 2019 - (1,983.47).

    • In collaboration with Sarah Neessen, Head Start Teacher, Knoxville-Knox County Head Start.
  • Teaching Support Awards Program, Teaching & Learning Innovation Center, The University of Tennessee, 2019 - (3,279.84).

  • Faculty Senate Research Council Summer Graduate Research Assistantship, The University of Tennessee, Office of Research and Engagement, 2018 - (3,600)


Selected Recent Publications:

(*Denotes graduate student or teacher practitioner) 

Kambutu, J., Madrid Akpovo, S., Nganga, L., & Thapa, S. (accepted). Privatization of early childhood education: Implications for social justice in Kenya and Nepal. Policy Futures in Education. 

Lash, M., Madrid Akpovo, S. & Cushner, K. (accepted). Developing the intercultural competency of early childhood preservice teachers: Preparing teachers for diverse classrooms. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education. 

Nganga, L., Madrid Akpovo, S., Thapa, S., & *Agnes, M. (accepted). How neocolonialism affects the early childhood workforce in Nepal and Kenya: A cross-cultural perspective. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood. 

Nganga, L., Madrid Akpovo, S., & Kambutu, J. (2020). Culturally inclusive and contextually appropriate practices: Rethinking perspectives, practices, polices, and experiences in early childhood education programs. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 34(1), 2-5, DOI: 10.1080/02568543.2019.1697153 

Madrid Akpovo, S., Thapa, S., & *Halladay, M. (2020). Learning to see teaching as a cultural activity: US preservice-teachers’ significant experiences with Nepali mentor-teachers during an international field experience. Journal of Research in Childhood Education,34(1), 59-75

Madrid Akpovo, S., & Nganga, L. (2018). Minority-World professionals in majority-world contexts: How do international field experiences promote intercultural competence or reinforce ethnocentrism? Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood,19(2), 1-7. DOI: 10.1177/1463949118778024r10.1177/1463949118778024

Madrid Akpovo, S., Nganga, L., & *Acharya, D. (2018). Minority-World preservice teachers' understanding of contextually appropriate practice while working in Majority-World communities. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 32(2), 202-218. DOI: 10.1080/02568543.2017.1419321

Link to Books

Madrid Akpovo, S., Moran, M.J., Brookshire, R. (2018). Collaborative cross-cultural research methods in early care and education contexts. New York: Routledge.

Madrid, S., Fernie, D., & Kantor, R. (Eds). (2015). Reframing the emotional world of early childhood classrooms. New York: Routledge.

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