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Department ofChild Studies

Brita Bookser

Brita Bookser
Brita Bookser
Assistant Professor

Brita Ariel Bookser is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Child Studies with expertise in early childhood, educational (in)equity, and antiracist and liberatory pedagogies. Throughout her childhood, Brita envisioned her future career as a “baby doctor.” She completed her B.S. in Psychology with a concentration in Counseling and Family Psychology at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) San Luis Obispo; M.A. in Infant Mental Health at Mills College; and Ph.D. in Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley.

An enthusiastic, compassionate mentor and teacher, Brita is the professor of courses including Antiracist and Decolonial Praxis in Early Childhood Contexts (CHST 6), Cultural Competence and Humility (CHST 4), and Quantitative Research Methods and Statistics (CHST 11). With students, Brita co-creates a learning community where all belong, and where standpoint, personal testimony, and transdisciplinary scholarship bear shared importance. Desire-based epistemology and womanist anti-carceral praxis anchor Brita’s approach in community as a scholar, educator, and agent of change. These frameworks underscore her emphasis on collective learning, critical reflection, and real-world connection as integrated processes of knowledge-sharing.

Brita’s research investigates hidden dimensions of exclusionary discipline in early childhood contexts; structural factors that explain educational exclusion; and early childhood antiracist and liberatory pedagogy and praxis frameworks. Her most recent publication coauthored with an interdisciplinary team, “Context Matters for Preschool Discipline: Effects of Distance Learning and Pandemic Fears,” was published in a special issue of School Psychology. Brita embraces open science and team science frameworks, and has recently collaborated on projects with the Black Cultural Zone, KQED Public Media of Northern California, and the California Arts Council, among others. Her first book project, Trapdoors: The American Tradition of Systematic Exclusion from Early Care and Education (working title), will situate Brita’s recent research on “extra-exclusionary” discipline in preschools within a social and political legacy of exclusionary tactics spanning the nursery schools of the Progressive Era to the fragmented system of early care and education of the 21st century. This project traces the forms and functions of exclusionary “trapdoors” over time; profiles key figures in the preschool workforce who designed liberatory, inclusive frameworks for belonging and contended with the complexities and constraints of a fraught system; and informs practices, policies, and investments toward educational equity and systems-change.

Brita practices self-love and rejuvenation through various activities, such as running, rock climbing, cycling, birding, and reading. She is deeply fulfilled by good food and conversation around the kitchen table, quality time with beloved family and friends, and volunteering with community organizations, especially Hearts for Paws Rescue.