New questions, new policy perspectives: insights from cultural anthropologist Julia Kowalski

Today, policymakers across the world are confronting huge problems, from climate crisis to democratic backsliding and the intensification of violence against women. We are at a moment where we need huge imaginations.

What if we asked different questions? And how could framing our questions differently lead us to new kinds of responses—and better answers?

This approach resonates with Julia Kowalski, assistant professor of global affairs at the Keough School. A cultural anthropologist, she focuses on gender, kinship, and expertise, with a focus on South Asia.

In her research, Kowalski uses ethnography to theorize social issues from the ground up, listening to what people are saying—and not saying. Here, she explains how such an approach can help policymakers open themselves up to new ideas, hear from a wider diversity of voices, and ultimately create better tools to tackle today’s big problems.

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