Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Council on Anthropology and Education
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Identity and Equity
Secondary Theme: Resistance
At the nexus of a hostile political climate in the U.S. and hegemonic neoliberal educational reforms, racially marginalized students work to construct identities as learners and social agents in school and beyond (Flores & Rosa, 2015; Irizarry & Raible, 2014). Policies of surveillance,
regressive discipline, and limited positionality as capable meaning-makers cast both students and educators as passive recipients of systems and structures, rather than social agents (Duncan-Andrade & Morrell, 2008; Poole, 2008). This session explores some ways that processes of resistance, resilience, and adaptation shape our identities, exploring social practices of teachers and learners around language, ethnicity, action, and cultural identification.
Drawing on the concept of the social construction of identity (Holland, et al., 1998), this session takes up the conference theme by addressing how individuals respond to and resist structural affordances. Authors examine diverse settings—classrooms, schools, and national systems—and a range of actors, including individuals, collectives, and ethnic groups within and across national boundaries. Papers investigate questions such as: How might/should learner and educator identity inform how and what we teach? How can teachers shape curriculum and pedagogy to support and sustain students' multi-faceted conceptions of self in figured worlds? How are students envisioning themselves as transfronterizos, exerting agency through their language, literacy, and other social practices? What happens when staff or students seek to resist conventional positionalities, and thus conventional educational outcomes? How do national policies shape individual and collective opportunities for cultural and intercultural identification and solidarity?
The co-construction of positive ethnic and academic identities depends largely on the ways educators implement curriculum and open opportunities for students to enact agency (Author, 2017). This occurs, however, in the context of national policies that shape educator and student subjectivities relative to their sanctioned credentials, language categorization, and individual and collective ethnic and racial identities. The first paper provides a theoretical foundation for processes of social construction of identity. The authors argue that, in school settings, a focus on “identities and creating opportunities for agentic action should be the purposeful center of pedagogical practice.” The following four papers examine ways students and teachers subvert prescribed identities in varied contexts. Two papers examine how educators—sanctioned or not—seek to redefine learning opportunities for students as constructors of meaning and knowledge, challenging the identities of both learner and educator in the process. The next two papers focus more specifically on subjectivities relative to language, demonstrating ways identities are fluid and dialogic, allowing individuals to position themselves as members of figured worlds (Nasir & Cooks, 2009; Rubin, 2007). The final paper draws our gaze back to considerations of how broader theories can support—or limit—agentive positionalities, in this case, relative to hegemonic national education policies in Ecuador. The author problematizes the concept of cultural resistance, investigating its limitations in supporting intercultural education, as well as intercultural identification within Ecuador and its diaspora. As a whole, this session explores models for reimagining the ways social actors are resistant, resilient, and continuously (re)creating new possibilities for identities within and beyond schools.