Harvard Educational Review
  1. Winter 2012 Issue »

    Symposium: Chicana Feminist Epistemology: 
Past, Present, and Future

    Introduction

    In 1998, Dolores Delgado Bernal charted a path from Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands into the heart of educational research in the pages of this journal. Drawing inspiration and critical direction from Chicana feminists and feminists of color more broadly, Delgado Bernal sought to interrupt habits of “epistemological racism” in educational research. Her article “Using a Chicana Epistemology in Educational Research” criticized conventional notions of objectivity and universal foundations of knowledge for erasing the specific intersectionality and location of Chicana experiences. Delgado Bernal defined cultural intuition as the deliberate employment of Chicana identity—its substance and its expression—in the theoretical and interpretive repertoires of Chicana researchers. She then, by example, through an oral history of Chicana students, showed how this feminist framework served the broader aims of educational research by amplifying rather than silencing Chicana voices. The article and the framework it put forth inspired a number of researchers and theorists.

    Almost fifteen years later, this symposium returns us to this work. In preparing our Winter issue, members of the Editorial Board were pleased to receive two articles that embody Chicana feminist epistemology in distinct but complementary ways. First, Dolores Calderón, Lindsay Pérez Huber, María C. Malagón, Verónica Nelly Vélez, and Dolores Delgado Bernal explicitly undertake a revisiting as well as a recasting of Delgado Bernal’s original framework. In “A Chicana Feminist Epistemology Revisited: Cultivating Ideas a Generation Later,” the authors review contemporary educational research to illustrate the ways in which Latina feminist epistemologies, and specifically cultural intuition, continue to thrive and drive important work about the educational and developmental lives of Latinas and Latinos. The research and theories this article highlights never stop at simple adoption of Delgado Bernal’s framework but, rather, adapt and evolve it for our contemporary context. In these iterations, Chicana feminist epistemology merges with participatory action research and Xicana Sacred Space models, dialogues with queer studies, and explores the decolonizing aspects of testimonios. The article closes with words from Delgado Bernal herself, who celebrates and draws inspiration from her colleagues, her presence celebrating the cross-generational bonds that have inspired, grounded, and sustained this important work.

    It is precisely this bond that is given voice in the second article in this symposium, “Thriving in Our Identity and in the Academy.” Milagros Castillo-Montoya and María E. Torres-Guzmán begin the work of this article in a conversation, a charla. Through their own testimonios, they explore their journeys as academics, as Latinas, and, specifically, as puertorriqueñas. Delagado Bernal’s framework affords them the lens through which to sort the particularities that brought their distinct experiences together—Castillo-Montoya is just coming into the profession and Torres-Guzmán is an experienced scholar who is retiring soon. The authors explore the theoretical insights that arise from having a second language in which to make and receive meaning, from contrasting the power of consejos with the constraints of the academy, and from the cultural va y ven that defines their lives. Drawing from Delgado Bernal’s example, they define their own term, lucha, to embody the experience of living “as foreigners because we have another language and culture even though we are citizens.”

    Delgado Bernal tells us that she hopes that “current and future generations of Chicana scholar-activists continue to raise our voices . . . as we (re)construct the ways we hear, interpret, and learn from and within a Chicana feminist epistemology in educational research.” We present this symposium to signal that her hopes are borne out in the field.

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    Winter 2012 Issue

    Abstracts

    Rules of the Culture and Personal Needs
    Witnesses’ Decision-Making Processes to Deal with Situations of Bullying in Middle School
    Silvia Diazgranados Ferráns, Robert L. Selman, and Luba Falk Feigenberg
    Transforming Teaching and Learning Through Social Movement in Mexican Public Middle Schools
    Santiago Rincón-Gallardo and Richard F. Elmore
    “Coming into Presence” as Mentally Ill in Academia
    A New Logic of Emancipation
    Rochelle Skogen

    Book Notes

    Postsecondary Education for American Indian and Alaska Natives
    Edited by Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy, Amy J. Fann, Angelina E. Castagno, and Jessica A. Solyom

    Asian American Education—Identities, Racial Issues, and Languages
    Edited by Xue Lan Rong and Russell Endo