Cultural Historical Research SIG 30
Cultural Historical Research SIG 30
SIG Purpose


Cultural Historical Research_LH

The Cultural-Historical Research Special Interest Group (SIG #30) of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) is a diverse grouping of researchers who approach learning, development and social change from a cultural-historical, socio-cultural and/or activity theoretic perspective. Common themes of research and conversation draw on Vygotsky, Luria, Leont’ev, Bakhtin, Mead (and others).

Drawing on these perspectives, members also engage with frameworks that are inclusive to, but not limited to critical, feminist, digital studies, and arts-based approaches to explore sociocultural, educational, pedagogical, and sociopolitical questions at the intersection of theory and practice. 


Co-Chairs: Arturo Cortez, University of Colorado Boulder & Anu Kajamaa, University of Helsinki 

Co-Program Chairs: Antti Rajala, University of Oulu & José Ramón Lizárraga, University of Colorado Boulder  

Secretary/Treasurer: Alfredo Jornet Gil, University of Oslo & Kalonji Nzinga, University of Colorado Boulder 

Website/Communications Chair: Eddie Rivero, University of California, Berkeley

Please see our Officer Profiles Below! 

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AERA 2021

2021 Call for Submissions-extended_1

Click the link below to read the call for submissions to the 2021 AERA Annual Meeting, from Program Co-Chairs Antti Rajala and José Ramón Lizárraga.

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Co-Chairs of SIG-30

Arturo Cortez
Teacher Learning, Research & Practice
University of Colorado Boulder

Arturo Cortez is an Assistant Professor of Teacher Learning, Research and Practice at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Broadly, his work is animated by cultural historical activity to explore how teachers collectively design for transformative and humanizing learning environments that leverage the everyday cultural practices of nondominant youth in urban settings. In his work with novice teachers, he intentionally designs for equity to understand the learning processes that emerge as teachers learn how to break away from dominant forms of schooling, opening up opportunities for new relationships between teachers, students, school administration, and community members. Click this link for Dr. Cortez's extended academic bio

Selected Publications 
Gutiérrez, K. D., Espinoza, M., Becker, B., Cortes, K., Cortez, A., Lizárraga, J. R., Rivero, E., Villegas, K., & Yin, P. (co-equal authors). (2019). Youth as Historical Actors in the Production of Possible Futures.  Mind, Culture, and Activity.

Cortez, A. , & Gutiérrez, K. D. (2019). Socio-spatial repertoires as tools for resistance and expansive literacies. In M. P. Pacheco & P. Z. Morales (Eds.), Transforming schooling for second language learners: Policies, pedagogies, and practices. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Anu Kajamaa
Faculty of Educational Sciences  
University of Helsinki

Anu Kajamaa, PhD, is an Associate Professor and Principal Investigator in the Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland. She is Co-Leader of an expert group called Learning, Culture and Interventions (LECI) and the Vice Director of the Doctoral Programme of School, Education, Society and Culture (SEDUCE) in the Faculty of Educational Sciences. She is also a Visiting Associate Professor at Aalto University, School of Business (Department of Management Studies) and in the School of Arts, Design and Architecture (Department of Media) in Finland. She serves as the Co-Chair of the Cultural-Historical Research Special Interest Group (SIG) at The Americal Educational Research Association (AERA). She has published over 60 papers in international journals and books, and has received several awards for her research and teaching. Click this link for Dr. Kajamaa's extended academic bio

Selected Publications 
Kajamaa, A., Kumpulainen, K. (2019). (Eds.) Double Special issue: Young people, digital mediation and transformative agency. Mind, Culture and Activity, Volume 26, Issues 3 & 4.

Kajamaa, A. & Kumpulainen, K. (2019). Agency in the Making: Analyzing students’ transformative agency in a school-based makerspace. Mind, Culture and Activity 26(3), 266-281.

Kajamaa, A., Mattick, K., Parker, H., Hilli, A. & Rees, C. (2019). Trainee doctors’ experiences of common problems in the antibiotic prescribing process: an activity theory analysis of narrative data from UK hospitals. BMJ Open 9(6).

Co-Program Chairs


Antti Rajala
Postdoctoral Researcher at the Faculty of Education 
University of Oulu

Antti Rajala, Ph.D. is Academy of Finland postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Education, University of Oulu. Rajala's research interests include dialogic pedagogy, global education, as well as learning, agency, and activism in education. Currently, he leads the project Pedagogy of concrete utopias: Promoting youth climate activism in formal education (2020-2023, funded by the Academy of Finland and Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation). Rajala serves as Co-Editor in Mind Culture and Activity; Associate Editor in Frontline Learning Research; and Co-Editor in Outlines: Critical Practice Studies. 

Selected Publications 
Rajala, A., Kumpulainen, K., Lipponen L., Rainio, A., & Hilppö, J. (2016). Dealing with the contradiction of agency and control during dialogic teaching. Learning, Culture, & Social Interaction, 10, 17-26.

Rajala, A., Rainio, A., Hilppö, J., Kurenlahti, E. A., & Lipponen, L. (2021). Critical compassion in Finnish early childhood educators’ responses to challenges of acting compassionately. In H. Harju-Luukkanen, J. Kangas, & S. Garvis (Eds.), Finnish Early Childhood Education and Care - From Research to Policy and Practice Springer International Publishing AG. 

José Ramón Lizárraga
Learning Science & Human Development
University of Colorado Boulder

José Ramón Lizárraga is Assistant Professor of Learning Sciences and Human Development at the University of Colorado, Boulder. As a learning scientist, José uses ethnographic, video, and multimodal research methods to investigate the role of social networks, television, and other digital new media in the learning of teachers and youth. Currently, his work examines the collaborative practices of novice teachers and adolescents at the intersection of virtual and in-person terrains of practice. Click here for Dr. Lizárraga's extended academic bio.

Selected Publications 
Gutiérrez, K. D., Becker, B. L., Espinoza, M. L., Cortes, K. L., Cortez, A., Lizárraga, J. R., Rivero, E., Villegas, K., & Yin, P. (2019). Youth as historical actors in the production of possible futures. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 1-18.

Lizárraga, J.R. & Cortez, A. (2019).  #gentrification, Cultural Erasure, and the (Im)possibilities of Digital Queer Gestures. In A. DeKosnik, K. Feldman (Eds.), #identity: Hashtagging Race, Gender, Sex, and Nation.

Secretary and Treasurer

Alfredo Jornet Gil
Teacher Education & School Research
University of Oslo

Alfredo Jornet Gil's research focuses on cultural, technological, and affective aspects of learning across formal and informal settings, with an emphasis on creativity and pedagogical innovation. Mostly using design-based and participatory ethnography methods, I have conducted research in such diverse contexts as arts-based education, science learning in and outside classrooms, or professional design, with the overall goal of better understanding how people with different backgrounds and interests learn and develop when they work together to imagine and achieve new shared goals. More recently, I work promoting and investigating open-schooling pedagogical innovations as a means to address the needs of school and societal transformation in the current context of environmental crisis and threat to democracy. Click this link for Dr. Gil's extended academic bio.

Selected Publications 
Damsa, Crina I. & Jornet, Alfredo (2020). The unit of analysis in learning research: Approaches for imagining a transformative agenda.  Learning, Culture and Social Interaction.  ISSN 2210-6561.  s 1- 3 . doi: 10.1016/j.lcsi.2020.100407

Jornet, Alfredo (2019). Experience as Emerging Concept in Contemporary Learning Sciences, In Michael A. Peters (ed.), Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory.  Springer.  ISBN 978-981-287-532-7.

Kalonji Nzinga
Learning Sciences & Human Development 
University of Colorado Boulder

Dr. Kalonji Nzinga is a cultural psychologist exploring how millennials and post-millennials develop their ethical worldviews. Using methods of validated psychological instruments, clinical interviews, and ethnographic observation he studies how young people come to understand moral concepts like authenticity, loyalty and justice as they grow up.  His research illuminates the polycultural process where young people encounter moral discourses from various traditions; in the form of sacred texts and traditional myths, but also in episodes of Law & Order, rap verses, and the comment threads of Twitter posts.  From these interactions with ideology, young people craft their own hybridized ethical perspectives.  His research has informed the design of various learning environments, multimedia arts exhibitions, and is published in the Journal of Cognition & Culture and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Click this link for Dr. Nzinga's extended academic bio.

Selected Publications 
Kalonji Nzinga (2020). Exploring Fanon’s psychopolitical project as a theory of learning, Mind, Culture, and Activity, DOI: 10.1080/10749039.2020.1716804

Nzinga, K.L.K., & Medin, D.L. (2018). The Moral Priorities of Rap Listeners. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 312-342.

Website/Communications Chair



Eddie Rivero
Postdoctoral Researcher
Learning Policy Institute

Eddie Rivero is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Learning Policy Institute whose research examines relationship centered schools (RCS). He is a learning scientist whose dissertation research examined youth agency and ingenuity in online gaming ecologies. Specifically, Rivero's research positions play as a critical site of inquiry for understanding the relationships, digital literacies, and sociopolitical dimensions of learning in which youth of color engage in their everyday lives. 

Selected Publications 
Rivero, E., & Gutiérrez, K. D. (2019). “You know what’s glitching?”: Emergent digital literacies in video game play. In The Routledge handbook of digital literacies in early childhood (pp. 158-168). Routledge. 

Gutierrez, K. D., Higgs, J., Lizarraga, J. R., & Rivero, E. (2019). Learning as movement in social design-based experiments: Play as a leading activityHuman Development62(1-2), 66-8.

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