Although there have been attempts to relate postcolonial theory to teacher education, those attempts have been somewhat limited. Analyses of the corpus of research on teacher education reveal a focus on defining how to become a teacher, how to judge whether what teachers are doing is effective, how to ensure that theories of learning guide what teachers do, and how to ensure that the teaching profession becomes more diverse and more like the population of children they teach. Although these areas are certainly important, what is striking are the losses they conceal and the absences that are revealed. Postcolonial theory has offered powerful commentaries on how most of the world has yet to engage with its colonial past and with endemic issues such as racism. Issues such as how the production of knowledge has been carefully restricted and defined to privilege Western ideologies, the creation of binaries that have systematically marginalized groups of people, the marriage of racist and colonial ideologies, and the creation of institutional structures such as schools that have imposed flawed knowledges on children have yet to be widely acknowledged in teacher education research.
Radhika Viruru and Julia C. Persky
Karleen Pendleton Jiménez
The theorizing of gender, sexuality, and borders emerged from borderland theory as conceptualized by Chicana lesbian writer Gloria Anzaldúa. Enacted in this theory are racial, ethnic, sexual, and gender identities and relationships to land, and the U.S.–Mexico border in particular. Borderland theory embraces the immigrants, the exiles, the mixed-race, the queers, the nonnormative, the crossers of binaries, broadly defined. Borderland pedagogies build upon borderland theory, encouraging recognition of diverse experiences, critical and flexible thinking, creativity, and acceptance of one’s contradictions. Popular culture serves as an important tool for borderland pedagogies, both as a resource for classroom teaching and as a broad-reaching medium to promote public learning. Music, film, literature, and television provide rich sources for learning and unlearning. Gender and sexual diversity in borderland popular culture are the outliers of heteronormativity and challenge dualistic notions of sex and gender. The borderland provide the symbolic location of the restrictions and wounds caused by binary thinking, as well as the place to recuperate, to heal, to learn, and to transform.
Ethnography is about cultural representation, which implies a gaze and set of questions and assumptions about who is being represented, by whom, and what for. In this sense, ethnography always is conducted across borders where borders imply a set of differences to confront and understand, even while the ethnographer is expected to effectively overcome these through embedded practice in the field. If the enterprise of conducting these studies is always marked by border crossing, then what are the different ways in which border crossings happen in knowledge production through ethnography? How does the definition of “border” change the way ethnographic studies are performed? Potential shifts in the meaning of “borders” heightens the importance of interrogating cultural representation, the social locations that ethnographers occupy, see, and speak from, and how perspectives on cultural representation and actual representations will differ. These dynamics build up when, as here, ethnography across borders implies the presence of the nation-state, either as palimpsest or direct actor in the relations and daily lives of the community-participant in the ethnography. Borders are necessarily evoked—geopolitical, social, cultural, national, regional, global, and personal ones, such as gender, race, class, and ethnicity. Ethnography across borders emerges in this instance as a methodology and a stance to deconstruct the ways in which ethnographers and ethnographies are radically situated in their own histories, and how radical contextualization of those histories is required to understand across borders and uncover the limits of cultural representation, language, and ethnography as a tool to understand the lives of people, their histories, and communities.