Latinas Negotiating Borders in Formal Education: A Deeper Spectrum Understanding of the Mestiza




Sosa, Sally

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This micro-ethnography study was designed to identify and analyze the generational differences among Latinas within one family––my family––to understand the influence of formal education systems on our cultural affiliation and ethnic identity. The study design included data collection through informed consent, group pláticas, individual pláticas, and testimonios created by each participant. The primary research question guiding this study was: How do Latinas’ K–12 schooling experiences inform their ethnic identity development? The primary and secondary research questions of this study were reinforced by Chicana feminist epistemologies (Anzaldúa, 2015; Calderón et al., 2012; Delgado Bernal, 2020) and Borderlands theory (Anzaldúa, 2012). Additionally, the five stages of racial cultural identity development were used by the participants to identify and communicate our ethnic identification before and after the study (Atkinson et al., 1993). Three themes emerged from the data and represented the experiences of the four participants. The three themes were fear of failure, feelings of not belonging, and teacher influence. The findings highlight how Latinas negotiate the boundaries of their identity, influenced by their interactions with academic authority figures, by displaying how they respond to the interactions and how they perceive the interaction and themselves after. The findings of this study add to the existing body of knowledge on Latinas’ experiences in formal education and the impact on their cultural or ethnic identity. Implications for practice include considering the subtractive elements in the schooling system and intentional training for educators in order for them to be aware of the negative side effects of assimilation and what they can do to authentically build on their students’ cultural and ethnic assets (Martínez-Roldán, 2021; Valenzuela, 1999). Future research should continue uncovering the ways in which our education system and our educators influence students’ cultural and ethnic identities.



ethnic/cultural identity, Latina, school experience


Sosa, S. (2023). Latinas negotiating borders in formal education: A deeper spectrum understanding of the mestiza (Unpublished dissertation). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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