El Jardín for Latina Scholars: Cultivating, Nurturing, and Sustaining Pedagogical Spaces for Identity Formation and Community Building




Rivera-Bocanegra, Esther Renee

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Historical, cultural, and educational policies based on deficit thought are ubiquitous in the identity formation of Latinas. These politics and practices are governed and informed by the dominant ideology and culture, leaving Latinas and their identity formation fragmented and colonized. This dynamic-critical study involved exploring Latinas’ cultural wealth and how we have navigated spaces of tension and inequity. This research highlights how Latinas’ ways of knowing and use of the mestiza consciousness have empowered them to recover from the trauma caused by oppression and move toward positive social change. Through harvesting stories and engaging in the story-making process, the research was designed to explore familial, cultural, social, political, and educational stories of the self, organizations, and communities that inform Latinas’ ways of knowing and being. By employing M. Guajardo et al.’s (2016) community learning exchange as a worldview, theoretical framework, and way of life, the goal was to better understand how lived experiences informed and influenced the identity formation of the participating Latinas. Collectively, we interrogated our individual lived experiences and witnessed the emergence of a collective axiology, ontology, and epistemology that births our values, work ethic, and advocacy. By using pláticas as method, the goal was to provide thick descriptions and rich data that give breadth and life to the previously uninterrogated lived experiences of Latinas and their witnesses. Coresearchers critically examined, questioned, reflected, and worked to make sense of our experiences within our communities and organizations and how these experiences inform our identities. Additionally, we named, documented, and harvested stories of when and how we have used our gifts of cultural wealth (Yosso, 2005); subsequently, we can use these stories to navigate and negotiate spaces of power lived, but not previously named. This contribution has benefits for schools, communities, and organizations in providing a better understanding of Latinas’ ways of knowing. Our research can inform how we cultivate healthy relationships and create safe and equitable pedagogical spaces and systems to nurture Latinas’ ways of knowing.



Latina ways of being, community learning exchange, platícas, sustainability, public pedagogy, community engagement


Rivera-Bocanegra, E. R. (2022). El Jardín for Latina scholars: Cultivating, nurturing, and sustaining pedagogical spaces for identity formation and community building (Unpublished dissertation). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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