Educational Policy in Comparative Context: Ethnic Minority Language Politics in Mexico and the United States

18/06/2019 14:00


This paper examines educational policy regarding public secondary school language instruction in Mexico and California. Indigenous people in both Mexico and the United States are some of the most marginalized citizens, with past generations subject to explicit genocidal state agendas, and current generations dealing with culturcide, meaning the intentional repression of indigenous culture, including language. To understand the historical context for contemporary politics of language in formal education settings, this paper addresses the ways in which ethnic minorities, and particularly indigenous peoples, are included or excluded from national and state-level educational policies regarding mother tongue or heritage tongue educational access. To better understand how the language regimes of Mexico and California clash with the demands of indigenous students, this paper utilizes comparative historical methods, political ethnography, focus groups, and surveys to identify path dependent language policy trajectories that promote or constrain access to ethnic minority language learning.Author Bio:Mneesha Gellman is Assistant Professor of Political Science in the Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies, at Emerson College (PhD, Northwestern University, Political Science). Her research interests include comparative democratization, cultural resilience, memory politics, and education policy in the Global South and the United States.Gellman's first book, Democratization and Memories of Violence: Ethnic Minority Social Movements in Mexico, Turkey, and El Salvador (Routledge 2017) examines how ethnic minority communities use memories of violence in mobilizations for cultural rights, particularly the right to mother tongue or heritage tongue education. At Emerson, she teaches courses on human rights, global studies, Latin American politics among others. In her other role, Gellman is also the founder and Director of the Emerson Prison Initiative (EPI), which brings high quality liberal arts education to incarcerated students at Massachusetts Correctional Institute (MCI) at Concord, a men's medium security prison.