Council on Anthropology and Education
Oral Presentation Session
Much of the literature on undocumented college students typically considers the experiences of these students in terms of how they navigate institutions of higher education (Pérez, 2009; Diaz-Strong, et al., 2011; Gonzales, 2010; Abrego, 2006). Despite the contributions of this scholarship, often lacking is a critical analysis of the University’s colonial project and its enclosures. Enclosures most readily signify a physical barrier that is meant to limit the freedom of movement. However, enclosures also refer to “the unseen forces and social mechanism that construct notions of race, gender, class, and sexuality” (Sojoyner 2016, p.14). Beyond the imposition of the physical, unseen enclosures can embody the removal, withdrawal, and denial of non-dominant onto-epistemological ways of being and knowing, and thus, the constituting of community.
In situating the experience of six undocumented students at a large public institution in the central coast of California, this project considers how Latinx undocumented college students (re)define themselves against the particular enclosure of the University’s western gaze. Specifically, I draw from relationships of acompañamiento (Sepulveda 2011; 2018) to understand the fugitive acts (Du Bois, 1935; 1992; Hartman 2008; Spillers 1987; Wynters 2003)- or practices of reclaiming - of undocumented students. Starting from the notion that the University understands undocumented Latinx students only as university subjects rather than human beings (Serrano et al, 2018), I demonstrate how undocumented Latinx students dismantle boundaries for their community, maintain connections to their homelands and draw knowledge from struggle in order to enact a timeless belonging that surpasses place.