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Interplay of a Way of Knowing Among Mexican-Origin Transnationals: Chaining to the Border and to Transnational Communities

by G. Sue Kasun - 2016

Background/Context: Transnational Mexican-origin youth comprise a large and increasing number of students in U.S. schools, yet their teachers have often misunderstood their backgrounds and the conditions related to their transnational movement over borders. With such a large number of immigrant/transnational youth in the U.S. of Mexican origin, it is important for educators to begin to understand their ways of knowing.

Purpose: I describe chained knowing, a way of knowing of transnational Mexican-origin families. Family members were chained to the border and to their extended family and communities across borders, with the latter way of knowing as an ends in itself. I offer implications for educators, curriculum, and considerations surrounding immigration policy.

Setting: Washington, DC area and two rural immigrant-sending communities in Mexico in the states of Jalisco and Michoacán.

Participants: Four working-class Mexican-origin families whose primary residence was in the Washington, DC area and who made return trips to Mexico at least every 2 years.

Research Design: This multi-sited, critical ethnographic work draws from participant observation and interviews with four families who were situated in the Washington, DC area. The research was collected over 3 years.

Data Collection and Analysis: Through the interwoven lenses of border theory and Chicana feminism, the data were collected over 3 years and then analyzed and coded for emergent themes in an iterative process. The data were member checked with participants from each of the four participating families and also coded by an outside researcher.

Findings: Mexican-origin transnationals in this study demonstrated an interconnected way of knowing as chained knowing: chained to both the border and to their extended communities spanning borders.

Conclusions: The ways of knowing of transnational families should be understood by educators, researchers, and policy makers in order to help the curriculum better reflect the increasingly global context all students engage and the ways we understand the struggles of people across borders.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 118 Number 9, 2016, p. 1-32
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 21523, Date Accessed: 7/29/2021 8:11:19 PM

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About the Author
  • G. Sue Kasun
    Georgia State University
    E-mail Author
    SUE KASUN is an assistant professor in the Department of Middle and Secondary Education at the College of Education and Human Development at Georgia State University. She researches ways of knowing and multiple cultural contexts, especially with Latina/o youth, with a focus on equity and healing through education. Recent publications include, Kasun, G. S. (in press). “The only Mexican in the room”: Sobrevivencia as a way of knowing of Mexican transnational students and families. Anthropology & Education Quarterly and Kasun, G. S. (2014). Hidden knowing of working-class transnational Mexican families in schools: Bridge-building, Nepantlera knowers. Ethnography and Education, 9(3), 313–327.
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