I envision teaching as an act of nepantlerismo–a Nahuatl term used by Gloria Anzaldúa to describe someone who straddles two worlds and builds bridges between them. Her works, the works of various feminist theorists of color, and my own academic mentors have shaped my teaching practice. As an educator I want to encourage students to serve as puentes (bridges) using social theory to create a more just world.
The classroom is not only a place for students to examine their daily lives but a stage to foster and nurture a healthy critique of academic discipline and practices. In this place, and on this stage, I guide students to:
- Apply theories and methods to assess, challenge, and transform the logic and practices of knowledge production inside and outside of the academy. Social theory has provided many with the framework to decipher and act in times of profound uncertainty. I have designed my curriculum to equip students to use sets of knowledge to transform our current social moment.
- Center the contributions made by individuals and communities who are not usually recognized or considered valid. I achieve this by exposing students to theoretical and methodological gaps in academic texts and guiding them to fill those exclusions with Global South scholarship and subaltern communities’ sabidurias (wisdom), conocimientos (knowledge), and expertise. At the same time, I circle back to how these forms of knowledge have enhanced mainstream theories and practices.
- Value their own and others’ experiential knowledge and its role in creating social theory. I empower students to reflect on how personal experiences have the same epistemological power as any other set of existing discourses. I ask them to remain “critically vigilant” (hooks 2003) regarding the ways that social positionality influences knowledge creation and dissemination.
- Restructure the concepts and practices of social justice and collective responsibility towards the creation of a “mundo…donde quepan muchos mundos (a world where many other worlds may fit in)” (EZLN 1994). I encourage students to connect with different groups, assess existing paradigms and practices, honor new ideas, and empower others to engage in transforming society and social justice.
hooks, b. 2003. Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope. NY: Routledge
Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN.) 1994. Segunda declaración de la Selva Lacandona. Chapas, Mexico.Web