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Juárez Girls Rising

Transformative Education in Times of Dystopia

2017
Author:

Claudia G. Cervantes-Soon

Juárez Girls Rising

Through the voices of high school girls in Ciudad Juárez, understanding how education can promote self-empowerment and resistance against injustice and violence

Claudia G. Cervantes-Soon explores the vital role that transformative secondary education plays in promoting self-empowerment and a spirit of resistance to the violence and social injustice working-class girls encounter in Ciudad Juárez. Bringing together the voices of ten female students at Preparatoria Altavista, Cervantes-Soon analyzes how students and teachers enact a transformative educational philosophy that promotes learning, self-authorship, and hope.

Rarely do we read about the on-the-ground liberatory work of teachers and youths in schools and the agency of young women to live meaningful and joyous lives. In Juárez Girls Rising, the stories of the women and the school are beautifully interwoven, providing a powerful, nuanced, and compelling ethnography that neither victimizes nor romanticizes young, working-class women as they form meaningful identities and future possibilities in the context of gender-, race- and class-based violence.

Sofia Villenas, Cornell University

Working-class girls in Ciudad Juárez grow up in a context marked by violence against women, the devastating effects of drug cartel wars, unresponsive and abusive authorities, and predatory U.S. capitalism: under constantly precarious conditions, these girls are often struggling to shape their lives and realize their aspirations. Juárez native Claudia G. Cervantes-Soon explores the vital role that transformative secondary education can play in promoting self-empowerment and a spirit of resistance to the violence and social injustice these girls encounter.

Bringing together the voices of ten female students at Preparatoria Altavista, an innovative urban high school founded in 1968 on social justice principles, Cervantes-Soon offers a nuanced analysis of how students and their teachers together enact a transformative educational philosophy that promotes learning, self-authorship, and hope. Altavista’s curriculum is guided by the concept of autogestión, a holistic and dialectical approach to individual and collective identity formation rooted in the students’ experiences and a critical understanding of their social realities. Through its sensitive ethnography, this book shows how female students actively construct their own meaning of autogestión by making choices that they consider liberating and empowering.

Juárez Girls Rising provides an alternative narrative to popular and often simplistic, sensationalizing, and stigmatizing discourses about those living in this urban borderland. By merging the story of Preparatoria Altavista with the voices of its students, this singular book provides a window into the possibilities and complexities of coming of age during a dystopic era in which youth hold on to their critical hope and cultivate their wisdom even as the options for the future appear to crumble before their eyes.

Juárez Girls Rising

Claudia G. Cervantes-Soon is assistant professor of bilingual/bicultural education at the University of Texas at Austin.

Juárez Girls Rising

Rarely do we read about the on-the-ground liberatory work of teachers and youths in schools and the agency of young women to live meaningful and joyous lives. In Juárez Girls Rising, the stories of the women and the school are beautifully interwoven, providing a powerful, nuanced, and compelling ethnography that neither victimizes nor romanticizes young, working-class women as they form meaningful identities and future possibilities in the context of gender-, race- and class-based violence.

Sofia Villenas, Cornell University

An important and unique insider's perspective on the city of Juárez, Juárez Girls Rising provides a complex, detailed, and nuanced lens to better understand the multiple barriers young women in the city encounter.

Gilda L. Ochoa, author of Academic Profiling: Latinos, Asian Americans, and the Achievement Gap

Juárez Girls Rising

Contents
Preface
Introduction: Countering Despair and Stigma through Autogestión
1. Border Paradoxes, Dystopia, and Revolutionary Education
2. Through Girls’ Eyes: Coming of Age in Ciudad Juárez
3. Enacting a Pedagogy of Autogestión
4. Building a Mujerista Space at Altavista
5. Mujeres Autogestivas: Young Women Authoring Their Identities
Epilogue: Life after Altavista
Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index