Council on Anthropology and Education
Oral Presentation Session
We live in a time of growing precarity, a term used by cultural anthropologists and social critics to describe the living conditions that differentially expose marginalized populations to destabilization, insecurity, and violence (e.g., Butler, 2009; Lorey, 2015; Tsing, 2015). In this paper, I examine the experiences of youth -- who are often called “unaccompanied minors” and have traveled from Central America to the U.S on their own -- in two settings: an international school designed for newly arrived immigrants and an arts-based afterschool program. Growing out of their experiences with precarity, which persist after they arrive in the U.S., youth bring tremendous distrust to their educational settings that is manifest in fear, anger, and resistance. The youth simultaneously engage with and struggle against the practices the teachers and afterschool leaders have established to allow them to both tell and change their life narratives. At the same time, the educators operate within a larger context of distrust shaped by educational policies that remove educational decisions from individual people and institutions. I examine the collision and remaking of policies and practices through a lens of distrust to illustrate new possibilities and educational alternatives for the youth.