Decolonizing the classroom: Mapping the impact of educational inequalities on Mexican-Americans through a Third Space Chicana Feminist analysis of literature and film




De Leon-Zepeda, Candace Kelly

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Third Space Chicana Feminists invite an alternative reading of the historical, social, personal, and political experiences of marginalized identities, as a means to challenge colonizing and linear narratives, theories, and texts. Diverging from the homogeneity of the first and second wave Feminist movements, Third Space Chicana Feminism articulates what Chela Sandoval explains as a "theory of difference" that allows for the visibility of one's gender, race, culture, or class. Chicana Feminists draw attention to an in-between social category defined as a Third Space in order to reject prevailing hegemonic classifications of otherness and marginality. My dissertation project elaborates Chicana Feminists assertion of Third Space to include the experiences of Mexican-American students and the construction of a Third Space classroom. Theorizing my lived experiences as a South Texas Chicana English-Composition instructor, I propose that the origins of this Eurocentric and homogenous discipline must be reevaluated in order to dismantle existing and oppressive theories, practices, and pedagogies that silence the agency of Third Space subjects, or Mexican-Americans; a population I define as U.S. citizens of Mexican ancestry descent. I argue that the theories of Third Space Chicana Feminists provide new methodologies for decolonizing the classroom and developing pedagogies that address the population of Mexican-American students. To better support this position, I introduce alternative ways of theorizing students' spaces by means of analyzing Mexican-American literature and films that center on the educational experiences of Mexican-American bodies. Finally, I conclude with a conversation on Third Space Chicana Feminists' praxis and how those theories can strengthen the discipline of English-Composition as evident in an analysis of Laura I. Rendón's sentipensante pedagogy and my interpretation of a pedagogy of the barrio.


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Chicana Feminist, Composition, Mexican-American, Pedagogy, Third Space, Writing