Alexandra Freidus

Term Assistant Professor

I am an educational ethnographer. I use social-cultural and critical race theory to explore relationships between the “macro” of public policy and discourse and the “micro” of everyday social interactions, with a focus on race and urban schools in the United States.

In my current project, I explore how stakeholders perceive and interact within diversifying schools in gentrifying areas of New York City.  I analyze data collected through participant-observation, interviews, and public archives to examine how community stakeholders conceptualize student diversity; how school and district administrators enact educational policy; and how these interlocking contexts relate to schools’ central work – teaching and learning.

My work has been supported by the National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship and the Fahs-Beck Fund for Social Research and published in Urban Education, The Teacher Educator, and Humanity and Society.

Academic Focus: 

Urban Education

Race and Schooling

Ethnographic Methods


Senior Seminar: New York City Field Research
Junior Seminar: Segregation in New York City
Introduction to Urban Ethnographies
Race, Space, and Urban Schools

Awards & Honors: 

National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Fahs-Beck Fund for Social Research Dissertation Scholar

Mitchell Leaska Dissertation Research Award, NYU Steinhardt

Doctoral Challenge Grant, NYU Steinhardt

Research Assistantship, Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools, NYU Steinhardt

Professional Affiliations: 

American Educational Research Association

American Anthropological Association: Council on Anthropology and Education

Presentations / Recent Lectures: 

“Race, Class, and Belonging: Desegregating Schools in Gentrifying New York.” National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Spring Retreat. Washington, D.C. 2018.

“Whiteness, Blackness, and Belonging in School and Classroom Discipline.”  Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association.  San Jose, CA.  2018.

I’m Not Really Good at Being Smart’: Student Constructions of Academic Ability in a Gentrifying Middle School.” Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. New York City, NY. 2018.

I Didn’t Have a Lesson’: Teaching, Learning, and the 2016 Presidential Election.” Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association. Washington, DC. 2017.

“Classroom Interactions in Desegregating Schools.” 38th Annual Ethnography in Education Research Forum. Philadelphia, PA. 2017.


Freidus, A.  (Forthcoming). “I Didn’t Have a Lesson”: Politics and Pedagogy in a Diversifying Middle School.  Teachers College Record.

Freidus, A., & Noguera, P. A. (2017). Making Difference Matter: Teaching and Learning in Desegregated Classrooms. The Teacher Educator, 52(2), 99–113.

Freidus, A. (2016). “A Great School Benefits Us All: Advantaged Parents and the Gentrification of an Urban Public School. Urban Education.

Freidus, A., & Noguera, P. A. (2015). From “Good Will” to “Anachronism”: Racial Discourse, Shifting Demographics, and the Role of School Desegregation in the Public Good. Humanity & Society, 1–25.

Public Scholarship:

Freidus, A. (2018). “The Election, One Year Later: Life Goes On at an East Coast Middle School.” Teaching Tolerance Magazine. January 31, 2018.

Freidus, A. (2017). “Who are the ‘Diversity in Admissions’ Pilot Schools?” Spotlight on NYC Schools. New York: Research Alliance for New York City Schools, New York University.

Freidus, A. and Noguera, P.A. (2017). “False Evidence Against Principal.” Education Week. August 22.

Works in Progress:

Freidus, A. (Under review). Modes of Belonging: Debating School Demographics in Gentrifying New York.


Milstein Center 715


Office Hours: 

Mondays and Wednesdays, 11:45am-1:00pm and by appointment


PhD, New York University

MA, Mills College

BA, Brown University