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Title: Indigenous children in urban schools in Jalisco, Mexico : an ethnographic study on schooling experiences
Author: Moreno Medrano, Luz Maria Stella
ISNI:       0000 0004 7224 4709
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2017
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Political recognition of the multicultural nature of Mexico has advanced the understanding of how people live together, as well as how they value and respect each other’s differences. The migration of indigenous populations from rural areas of the country to urban settings has transformed the cities, and also schools, into places of remarkable cultural diversity. This study examines the processes of identity formation of indigenous children in two urban schools in Jalisco, Mexico. By studying the processes of identity formation, I focus on understanding how indigenous children represent themselves within the wider social discourses and dynamics of power, which might be either reinforcing or limiting their opportunities to strengthen their ethnicity. By using an ethnographic approach, from a critical theory perspective, this study focus on listening to indigenous children’s voices, rather than the other voices and experiences within the school setting. The study was conducted in two schools in the municipality of Zapopan, in the State of Jalisco, Mexico. Over a period of 14 months, I conducted semi-structured interviews with 22 indigenous children, balanced by gender and age, from 4 different ethnic groups: Mazahua, Nahua, Purepecha, and Totonaco. I also interviewed 22 mestizo children, 10 teachers, 3 principals, and 7 parents. The schooling experiences of indigenous children are discussed in the study. Elements such as language use, territory (geographic and symbolic), family networks, and their attachment to their communities of origin were identified as the crucial factors for indigenous children to represent, or sometimes deny, themselves as being indigenous. The analysis also highlights the silences, racism, and ethnic blindness that indigenous children face in urban schools. Meritocratic educational approaches within neoliberal discourses of competition, individual effort, and autonomy were embedded in the children’s schooling experiences, thereby shaping their learner identities. This study seeks to contribute to the pursuit of providing indigenous children with educational services that recognise and reinforce their ethnic identity. It is also my objective that children’s voices open up a dialogue with those responsible for the educational and social policies, in order to create a common front that might challenge the racism veiled as indifference and/or a desire for ‘equality’ in Mexican urban schools.
Supervisor: Reay, Diane Sponsor: Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT) ; Mexico
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: indigenous children ; urban schools ; intercultural education