Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Controversia: Subaltern Studies

Is there a Subaltern Pedagogy & would it lend itself to a Latin Lens?

When comparing pedagogical approaches, it's easy to become caught in a negative capability of differences and similarities within Western philosophy & application that the perspective of the subaltern is ignored. Is it a splitting of pedagogical hairs if the comparisons vary in slight degrees of Critical, Latino, Chicano & LatCrit categories? Is there a way to come at teaching from the literacies of the under-represented and speak from a classical education/codex literacy that privileges the marginalized who are almost never heard from?

Some Latino pedagogies emphasize what can be called funds of knowledge, or the literacies that students learn outside the classroom, like corridos & traditional wisdoms that are passed down through informal-mama-in-the-kitchen-wrapping-tamales-as-she-tells-it-how-it-is. From what I understand of Subaltern Studies, it seems as though these funds of knowledge are followed back to the classical roots of indigenous knowledge & wisdom that was oppressed during colonization.

Subaltern is defined as:

Subaltern Studies seeks to engage the subaltern as an ally and participant in the academic process through modified research methodologies that describe the subject on its own terms, instead of recasting it as the “other” of the dominant culture. This means that academics must both modify their own methodologies and perspective to allow for the differences between their hegemonically centered view and that of their subjects and seek to establish new relationships between themselves and the subaltern populations that they are studying (Latin American Subaltern Studies Group 121).

A colleague and Subaltern scholar at U of A referred me to this extremely informative Subaltern site at OSU.

Unlike critical pedagogies that challenge the dominant/hegemonic beliefs, a Subaltern approach to pedagogical practices seems to draw attention to pictographic texts that require different kinds of literacy that simultaneously possess deeper wells of knowledge than generally celebrated when the literature of people of color is the focus.

More later...

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