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Either I’m
Nobody or a
Nation
Re-Imaging Diversity through
Narrative, New Literacies and
the Cosmo-poetics of 21st
Century Students
Rationale and Purpose
 The
history of the United States is one of
migrations. The true history of these
migrations has yet to be told.
–Michel-Rolph Trouillot, (1995)
“I have Dutch,
English, and [Negro]
in me and either I’m
nobody, or a
Nation.”
--Derek Walcott, The Schooner
‘Flight’
--Social and Industrial History of
Indiana, Benton, T.H. (1933).
From My Families:
brujería and
Beyond
Overview of the issue

21st Century multiracial, multiethnic, and
transnational students are redefining what it
means to be American. In the process, they offer
new ways of situating reading, writing, teaching
and learning in classrooms and educational
spaces. From how we speak about race and
place to the history of our shared spaces,
aesthetics, and what counts as “literacy”, we are
in a moment when student voices are leading the
way for social scientists and educators alike in rediscovering and re-conceptualizing identity and
literacy in American spaces.
Problem

Multicultural Education and “Diversity”
Education are two aspects of language and
literacy education that are often
championed for their efforts at creating crossdifference understanding and tolerance.
However, many programs still employ an idea
of “difference” rooted in the Western colonial
project which yielded and, arguably,
continues to yield, racial, ethnic, and linguistic
mappings, typologies, and ill-fitting
“boundaries” across much of the World.
Questions



What “new” and transcultural ways of seeing and
knowing are students bringing to 21st Century
classrooms?
What would happen if, instead of treating
‘diversity’ or ‘di-versality,’a term coined by Walter
Mignolo (2002) that denotes a counter to universality and that celebrates mixture and relation,
as an addition to the regular, dominant, canonical
and euro-centric curriculum, it was made central?
What forms would student responses take to a
pedagogical move that embraced mixture and
relation over traditional, segregated typologies
and identity categories?
Theoretical and Analytic
Lenses



Trnasculturation and
Creolization (Ortiz, F.
(1947), Glissant,
(1989).
Cosmopolitanism
and Care (Appiah,
K. (2007), and
Noddings, N. (2002).
Critical Pedagogy
(Freire, P. (1970).
“The question was put to him
what country he was from, and
he replied, ‘I am a citizen of the
world’.”
—Diogenes (404-423 BC)

Analytic Questions:





Transculturation and Créolité:
Are there instances of trans-localism (claiming
more than one location as meaningful)?
Are there instances of plurality (claiming more
than one racial, ethnic, religious identity)?
Are there instances of ‘becoming di-verse,’ or
seeking meaning across, within, in between, or at
the “interstices” (Bhabha, 1994)of boundaries?
What, if any, instances of either embodied,
extraordinary, emerging, resistant or other forms of
transculturation or créolité are there?
Analytic Questions



II. Cosmopolitanism:
In what ways are students expressing a sense
of ‘having obligations to others, obligations
that stretch beyond those to whom we are
related by the ties of kith and kind (Appiah,
2006)?
Do students voluntarily make connections to
others or does the curriculum and/or teaching
method promote relational connectivity?
Critical Pedagogy




III. Critical Pedagogy
In what ways do active and purposeful
exercises aimed at creating reflections on
identity, power and normativity engage
students?
Are there instances of either liberation or
conscientization?
Do students take an active role in suggestions
for practice of a transcultural curriculum, one
based in créolité?
Methods
 Auto-ethnography
and the feminist
narrative traditions in literary studies and
anthropology to inform a ‘transcultural
and narrative ethnography’.
 Practitioner-inquiry based stance
Context
 “Student
Success Center” at a large,
public, and mid-western university.
 “College Skills Class” : first generation
college students, “mixed” students, and
students on the University’s Academic
Probation.
Participants:
 Jeremiah
 Lily
 David
Chapter 1 :
Diversity is not
Elsewhere
Digital narrative and
multimodal literacies: ReImaging the Eye/I in
educational space
Re-Thinking the Eye/I of 21st
Century classrooms
 Student
digital narrative suggests that
there is no longer a singular “I”, breaking
down binaries of the western colonial
project.
 Digital Narrative as emancipatory and
accessible
They Call Me
Jeremiah smith
If you must know…...
I’m Lily & this is me
I am…
Chapter 2: NeoHistoricism and
Textual mediation
“I met History once, but he ain’t
recognize me.” –Derek
Walcott, Poet Laureate (1992)
Chapter 3: Art Education and
Student Success
(Wollin, J., 2010)
Chapter 4: Hip-Hop
Education for 21st
Century Student
Success
Rocky Rivera, (2010). Heart
http://www.youtube.com/wat
ch?v=evrJJkUHZ4Y
Implications


Greg Tanaka’s call to, “join in the kind of applied research
that might help us look into the interior spaces of both white
students and students of color at increasingly diverse
campuses, while testing new, more intercultural practices
that replace earlier multicultural programs,” is exactly what
this research aimed to embrace and practice “in the field.”
(Tanaka, 2009). The work and research I offer here is a
clear and telling sign of the urgent need to rethink race,
ethnicity, and Americanality/Americanidad in the 21st
Century.
Additionally, the work here suggests a real and nourishing
avenue for redefined “success” with otherwise two or three
times (due to a mismatch of racial, ethnic, or currently
existing ‘multicultural’ categories) marginalized college
students.
Implications, evoking Sonia
Nieto’s (2010) suggestions





Multicultural education assumes that a curriculum that is more
multicultural is also more complicated and truthful and will, in the
long run, help develop citizens who think critically, expansively, and
creatively (56) I will add, in a more cosmopolitan fashion that
evokes a deep seated care and concern for others.
Our collective consciousness began with—and continues to be
influenced by—indigenous Americans as well as by those who were
forcibly brought from Africa into slavery (57)
Multicultural education is a process (78)
Identity is belonging and belonging is embracing our hybridity—
Identity is not simply a personal issue, but [one] that is deeply
embedded in institutional life. (11)
Quoting Frederick Erickson, “When we think of culture and social
identity in more fluid terms. . . we can find a foundation for
educational practice that is transformative.” (212)

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