Privileged and Undocumented: Toward a Borderland Love Ethic



In this chapter, I further explore my positionality, moving from the personal to the academic as I discuss the tensions of what it means to be a “deserving” native researcher. In this way, I present my conceptual framework from which my writing stems and offer a theoretical situatedness as researcher. I begin by experimenting with the meaning of a borderland love ethic as a theoretical framework that centers on nurturing our strength to love in spaces of contention, tolerance of ambiguity as a revolutionary virtue, and humbly beginning anew again and again. Drawing from an extended interview with a participant of a larger study about undocumented students, I describe our positionalities with respect to privilege and undocumented status as the central foci. I use my own dilemma of understanding and reconciling my position as a once undocumented immigrant to a now hyperdocumented (Chang, Harvard Educational Review, 81(3), 508–520, 2011) native researcher, studying undocumented people, to work through the possibility of a borderland love ethic. Relying primarily on the theoretical works of Anzaldúa (Borderlands: La frontera—The new mestiza. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1987), Darder (Teaching as an act of love: Reflections on Paolo Freire and his contributions to our lives and our work. In A. Darder, M. Baltodano, & R. D. Torres (Eds.), The critical pedagogy reader. New York: Routledge, 2003), and hooks (All about love. New York: First Perennial, 2000). I ask how we as scholars enact love in our research amidst our seemingly contradictory positions of oppression and privilege. I contend that one possibility is by employing a borderland love ethic that embraces ambiguity, rejects binary positions, and humbly acknowledges our constant state of arriving, both as researchers and participants.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationLoyola University School of EducationChicagoUSA

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