"Healing the split": Tejiendo mestizajes of epistemologies in Latina education and literature

Date
2012
Authors
Cantu-Sanchez, Margaret Esther
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Abstract

This dissertation explores what I call the education/educación conflict as it is experienced and examined by Latinas in history, literature, and education through testimonios. I define this conflict as a Latina's inability to balance multiple epistemologies and identities and offer a possible solution by adding to the theories of Chicana Third Space Feminism and Critical Race Theory.

I explain how this conflict can be resolved by adding to Gloria Anzaldúa's notion of mestizaje to develop my own theory, a mestizaje of epistemologies, a survival strategy employed by Latinas in US institutions of learning. I propose that what I am calling a mestizaje of epistemologies, a balance of multiple knowledges, is utilized by certain protagonists and authors of Latina literature and testimonios as a means of retaining ties to their cultures and succeeding in school. I demonstrate how this theory is also a pedagogy that can be employed in the classroom. A mestizaje of epistemologies emerges from the theoretical concepts of Chela Sandoval, Emma Pérez, Laura Rendón, Paulo Freire, and Michel Foucault. An analysis of Latina literature utilizing a mestizaje of epistemologies reveals that the education/educación conflict is often, though not always, experienced by Latinas once introduced to assimilationist strategies, including the binary thought process of the US education system. Latinas experience alienation and confusion of identity marked by the education/educación conflict due to such binary thinking. I propose that a mestizaje of epistemologies is necessary to help Latinas resist dualistic ways of thinking, weave multiple epistemologies, and heal.

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Keywords
Chicana, Third Space Feminism, Critical Race Theory, Educacion, Epistemologies, Latinas, Mestizaje
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Department
English