Council on Anthropology and Education
Oral Presentation Session
In new(er) Latino diaspora sites like Wisconsin, Latinx immigrant families are often confronted with racist nativist institutions, policies, and practices (Perez Huber, 2010). The Latinx youth in this study, whether U.S born or not, were aware that they were not perceived as Americans. For them American meant güeros or Whites, which was a distinction that emerged from their racialization experiences (Flores-Gonzalez, 2017; Lee, 2001). In navigating exclusion, both inside and outside of schools, many Latinx immigrant youth experience nepantla, a space of in-between cultures, as they grow up in the United States with roots in Latin America and form hybrid, complex, and sometimes contradictory identities (Anzaldúa, 2007). In this paper, I draw on an 18-month ethnography of Latinx immigrant youth in a community center program. I found that both Undocu/DACAmented students and transnational students struggled to find a sense of belonging in schools, which led them to spaces like the La Colectiva community program. Undocu/DACAmented youth were constantly pushed out from an American society through policies that prevented them from attending state universities or accessing state/federal financial aid. While transnational students often had U.S. citizenship and did not have to contend with these exclusionary policies, they felt a cultural displacement as they tried to navigate a White, middle-class curriculum and norms. In this paper, I argue that La Colectiva’s dialogue-centered approach and relationships of critical care supported both of these groups of Latinx immigrant students to be nepantleras, or border-crossers, who built a strong sense of cultural self and belonging.