Indigenous and Ethnic Minority Politics

(2023 forthcoming). Culture Kids: Education and Indigenous Language Politics in Mexico and the United States. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Summary: Indigenous peoples in Mexico and the United States are some of each state’s most marginalized citizens, with past generations subjected to explicit genocidal agendas, and current communities dealing with ongoing assimilationist state projects, particularly in the classroom. Culturecide, meaning the intentional repression of cultures, including languages, is not just a thing of the past, but in fact continues via Indigenous cultural exclusion throughout Mexico and the United States. Yet some Indigenous communities are finding ways to reassert their rights to cultural survival. While many Indigenous movements have been analyzed institutionally within political parties or contentiously in the streets, Culture Kids documents Indigenous resilience within high school classrooms, highlighting the education sector as a space to challenge culturecide.

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(in process).  “It’s Hard to be Young, Brown, and in College”:  The Politics of Indigenous Identity in Oaxaca, Mexico. Article under review.

Summary: In this article, I address the question; How does Indigenous language politics inform college-age identity construction in Oaxaca, Mexico? Working within a collaborative methodological framework, through methods including political ethnography, qualitative interviews, focus groups, and surveys, I examine two distinct groups of young people age 17-24 in Oaxaca who are working towards a Bachelor’s degree (Licenciatura). I particularly focus on Indigenous language access as a space where ongoing patterns of assimilation push Indigenous students away from choosing to study Indigenous languages, while young people who are somewhat removed from Indigenous identities are more eager to embrace Indigenous languages as a way to reclaim a past their families have already moved away from. I argue that curricular language choices reveal how in Oaxaca, the process of Indigenous identity validation as seen in law, policy, and tourist brochures, does not yet play out in practice.

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2020 “Mother Tongue Won’t Help You Eat:” Language Politics in Sierra Leone.” African Journal of Political Science and International Relations. Vol.14(4), pp. 140-149.

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Summary: This article discusses how Sierra Leone's language regime, moderated through formal and informal education, contributes to postwar globalization dynamics. Analyzing the linguistic history of Sierra Leone, as well drawing on interviews and political ethnographic work, the study argues that language and identity shifts connected to postwar globalization reflect tensions between upward socioeconomic mobility and cultural survival.

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2020 “COVID-19 and the Opportunity of Un-Schooling Harmful Myths.” The Globe Post. 8/18/20. Available at: https://theglobepost.com/2020/08/18/un-schooling-us-curricula/

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Summary: This news article examines the effects of virtual learning on school-age children during the pandemic and, more specifically, how the shift away from classroom learning has changed education politics overall.  The article explores these politics in the context of Indigenous rights research, and discusses, for example, stereotypes, assimilation, and the un-schooling of harmful social and racial myths.

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2019 “The right to learn our (m)other tongues: indigenous languages and neoliberal citizenship in El Salvador and Mexico.” British Journal of Sociology of Education, 40:4, 523-537.

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Summary: Examines bilingual and intercultural education policies and practices in El Salvador and Mexico. Analyzes, in the context of legacies of assimilation and neoliberal homogenization, the way that certain kinds of citizenship become prioritized over others. By considering ethnic minority education in both El Salvador and Mexico using a comparative perspective, this article addresses the ways that indigenous people have been rendered invisible as citizens unless they are willing to assimilate in the arena of formal education.

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2019 “Fighting Invisibility: Indigenous Citizens and History in El Salvador and Guatemala.” Lead co-author, with Michelle Bellino. Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies Journal. Vol 14:1, pages 1-23.

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Summary: This article examines the impact of democratization in El Salvador and Guatemala in the educational sphere, documenting narrative trends on the topic of civil wars and indigeneity in formal and informal education settings. It argues that distinct democratization and transitional justice processes have created opportunities and challenges for teaching and learning about indigenous peoples’ roles and experiences in the civil wars in each country. Methodologically, the article draws on analyses of educational policy and formal curriculum in both contexts, supplemented by ethnographic data.

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2017 Democratization and Memories of Violence: Claiming Cultural Rights in Mexico, Turkey, and El Salvador. New York and Oxford, Routledge.

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Summary: Examines how minority communities use memories of state and paramilitary violence to shame states into cooperating with minority cultural agendas such as the right to mother tongue education.  Draws on six case studies in Mexico, Turkey, and El Salvador to show how memory-based narratives serve as emotionally salient leverage for marginalized communities to facilitate state consideration of minority rights agendas.

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