Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Council on Anthropology and Education
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Teaching
Secondary Theme: Immigration/Migration/Citizenship
Latinas of diverse backgrounds live transnational/transregional lives, whether or not they are physically crossing the U.S.–Mexico border. Latinas’ pedagogical practices are shaped by nation-state politics of belonging/non-belonging on both sides of the border, and uneven gendered globalization that propels families and whole communities to a U.S. context of anti-immigrant, racist nativism (Pérez Huber, 2009). Latinas transfronterizas also draw on generational and ever dynamic ways of being, knowing, loving, mothering and superviviendo, or teaching and learning life-sustaining practices (Trinidad Galván, 2015). Sites of knowledge production have ranged from the archives of gossip, rumor and family stories (Saldívar-Hull, 2000) to mujerista (Latina womanist)-inspired spaces recreated within and across home, community, school, institutions, place and land (see Villenas, Delgado Bernal, Elenes and Godinez, 2006 among many others). Latina pedagogies and epistemologies emerge from the historical specificity of Indigenous, mestiza, brown and black bodies, queer bodies and labouring bodies (Cruz, 2006), rather than from universalized notions of “woman” and human. From this embodied knowledge, Latinas re-create themselves as pedagogues in their roles as community educators, teachers, mothers, and student activists in ways that defy and re-map geopolitical borders.
The ethnographic studies in this proposed session examine the myriad ways in which Latinas draw on their transfrontera knowledge to teach, learn and educate in adult literacy programs, schools, and communities. Transmigrant mothers in Mexico challenge the coloniality of exclusion as they work to (re)incorporate their children into Mexican society and schools, while in Arizona, a group of Latinas re-center their motherwork in pursuit of powerful literacy practices in an adult program. Maestras (teachers) in the transfrontera region of Texas draw on their unique knowledge and experiences to leverage youths’ language and literacy practices in expansive ways. Young high school Latinas in California mobilize identities as mujeres truchas or street-smart Latinas (Cervantes-Soon, 2016) in struggles for just and humanizing education and relationships. And in the rural northeast, Latinas engaged in community cultural programming mobilize cultura (culture) to produce spaces for flexible identifications of Latinidad as points of departure for social change. The authors draw on Latina/Chicana decolonial feminist thinkers to theorize the intersections of the local, hemispheric and global in borderlands scholarship, challenging (neo)coloniality and foregrounding gender, sexuality, spirituality, and coalition (Anzaldúa, 2001; Lugones, 2006; Sandoval, 2000; Suárez Navaz & Hernández, 2008). The presenters in this session elaborate mujer-centered conceptions of pedagogy and epistemology, for example thinking with lo cotidiano, testimonio, world-traveling as coalition, and Anzaldua’s notions of nepantla–the difficult but transformative space between worlds. This session highlights how the work of education for Latina pedagogues is urgent. This work necessarily exposes the material and psychic costs of the legacies of state-sanctioned violence. However, it also re-centers healing, cultural affirmation, resistance and resilience in teaching and learning.