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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Diaspora Latina Mothers in the American South: Education, Pedagogy and Performance in the Borderlands

Sofia Villenas.

This paper centers Latina mothers‚ education and pedagogies in the borderlands of North Carolina. Borderlands means not only the geographical divide between the U.S. and Mexico, but also, it is the borderlands between generations, meanings, spiritualities, and identities (Anzaldúa: 1987).
But this teaching and learning is also about performing contingency, tensions, negotiations, as well as joy and creativity. Based on over two years of ethnographic work, this paper details some of these borderlands pedagogical moments in the words and narratives of a group of Latina mothers. Specifically, it looks at how these women narrated their educational lives as daughters, sisters, workers, educators and community activists. They defined their identities as „educated‰ women and competent
mothers who nonetheless were struggling with the contradictions and paradoxes of raising children in a region with no previous history of Latino settlement. This paper has policy implications for the areas of multicultural and language minority education by arguing for an understanding of Diaspora mothers not as liabilities, but as incredibly resilient „teachers who negotiate for their children, teaching and learning in new borderlands.


Sofia Villenas  (United States)
Associate Professor
Dept. of Curriculum and Instruction
University of Texas at Austin

Sofia Villenas is associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research centers on investigating Latino home and community education within the dynamics of racial/cultural community politics. Her work appears in Harvard Educational Review, Anthropology and Education Quarterly, and Curriculum Inquiry among other journals. She is also co-editor of Race Is .
. . Race Isn‚t: Critical Race Theory and Qualitative Studies in Education.

  • Diaspora Latina Mothers in the American South
  • Education, Pedagogy and Performance in the Borderlands

(30 min Conference Paper, English)