Abstract: Mexico has historically been a culturally and linguistically diverse society. In spite of Spanish colonialism and the remaining state of coloniality (Mignolo, 2000), more than 7.5 million Indigenous peoples speaking 362 different languages have resisted and survived (INEGI, 2020). Due to social and economic problems as well as unequal power relations, Indigenous families are moving from rural to urban settings within Mexico and also migrating to the USA and Canada. Nevertheless, their presence has been invisibilized by the “mestizo” category in Mexico and by the “Mexican” or “Latino” labels in the USA and Canada. In addition, Indigenous peoples’ multiliteracies and translanguaging practices have not been considered appropriate or valued in North American schools (López-Gopar, 2007, 2011; Menezes de Souza, 2003).
The purpose of this lecture is to present the results and insights of an on-going critical ethnographic action research (CEAR) project, whose main goals are to value and foster the multiliteracies and multilingual practices of Indigenous peoples as well as to renegotiate affirming identities. Utilizing decolonizing and critical pedagogies (Freire, 1993; López-Gopar, 2016; Mignolo, 2007) in language learning theories (Norton & Toohey, 2004) and based on the iterative analysis of multiple sources of data (classroom observations, interviews, video and audio recordings, and student work samples), this presentation uses Indigenous peoples’ stories as a rhetorical strategy to challenge and change negative or discriminatory perceptions towards Indigenous peoples in North American classrooms. Through such stories, the presentation discusses issues of identity as well as pedagogical and assessment practices in relation to current political, educational and language policies and practices affecting the lives of millions of Indigenous peoples in Mexico, the USA and Canada. This presentation concludes by arguing that understanding the diversity of Mexico is imperative to meet the needs of the increasingly diverse student populations in North American classrooms.
Bio: Mario López-Gopar (Ph.D., OISE/University of Toronto) is professor at Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca. Mario’s main research interest is intercultural and multilingual education of Indigenous peoples in Mexico. He has received over 15 academic awards. His Ph.D. thesis was awarded both the 2009 AERA second language research dissertation award and the 2009 OISE Outstanding Thesis of the year award. He has published numerous articles and book chapters in Mexico, USA, Canada, Argentina, Brazil and Europe. His latest books are Decolonizing Primary English Language Teaching (Multilingual Matters, 2016) and International Perspectives on Critical Pedagogies in ELT (Palgrave MacMillan, 2019).