Illinois Association for Cultural Diversity

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“Forging Identity: The Power and Poetics of Embodied Consciousness”
A Latina Perspective with Dr. Antonia Darder
Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 7:00 p.m.
109 Morgan Hall

Antonia DarderWestern Illinois University will host a presentation by Professor Antonia Darder, an internationally lauded educator, on Thursday, October 4, 2007, in 109 Morgan Hall from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. Dr. Darder is the second in a series of speakers who will be on campus to address the issue of identity development. The first presentation, delivered in the spring by Dr. Thomas A. Parham, focused on “The Struggle for Identity Congruence in African Americans.” Dr. Darder, a native of Puerto Rico who teaches in Educational Policy Studies and Latino/Latina Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, will discuss “Forging Identity: The Power and Poetics of Embodied Consciousness.”

In this free presentation, Professor Darder will examine the impact of social, cultural, economic, and political issues on the development of identity and social consciousness from the standpoint of a Puerto Rican woman’s personal history. More specifically, she will use her own historical narrative, her autobiography, to make the case that identity is shaped not solely by individual subjectivity, but in very significant ways by the larger historical conditions and societal forces that shape our strategies of survival, as both individuals and social beings.

Dr. Darder is exceptionally well qualified for this exploration, having emigrated at age three with her mother as part of an exodus of impoverished Puerto Ricans who thought life on the mainland would be better. She grew up in poverty in East Los Angeles and as a young adult, despite her status as a single mother on welfare, began studies at Pasadena City College in 1972, later attending Cal State Los Angeles and Pacific Oaks College before earning her PhD from Claremont Graduate University in 1989. She became a pediatric nurse and then a licensed psychotherapist, concentrating on poor working class Spanish-speaking families in her practice. Much of her doctoral work in education revolved around “Critical Pedagogy, Cultural Democracy, and Biculturalism: The Foundation for a Critical Theory of Bicultural Education,” the subject of her dissertation.

At a conference on Paulo Freire’s work, Ms Darder met Paulo Freire, Henry Giroux, Donaldo Macedo and other scholars in the critical pedagogy movement in the United States. The meeting catapulted her work into deep critical engagement with questions related to oppressed cultures, languages, and schooling and resulted in the 1991 publication of her classic text, Culture and Power in the Classroom. Her scholarship, shaped by her identity as a working class woman of color at the margins of mainstream society, has consistently reflected her commitment to critical pedagogy and her uncompromising commitment to struggle for social justice, human rights, and economic democracy.

Dr. Darder’s most recognized subsequent publications include Reinventing Paulo Freire: A Pedagogy of Love, which was named outstanding book in curriculum for 2001-2002 by the American Educational Research Association and explores Freire's theories within the context of U.S. public schools, The Critical Pedagogy Reader (co-edited with Rodolfo D. Torres and Marta Baltodano), and After Race: Racism After Multiculturalism, which she co-authored with Torres and which analyzes the significance of class in understanding how racism functions within a capitalist society.

Paralleling Professor Darder’s scholarly work has been her activism in grassroots struggles tied to education rights, workers’ rights, bilingual education, women’s issues, and immigrant rights. She firmly believes critical scholars, researchers, and teachers must move out of their academic comfort zones to work with activists who challenge oppressive conditions and stifling social structures.

Dr. Darder's visit to WIU will include discussions with several classes and a meeting with deans and chairs as well as her evening presentation. The WIU Expanding Cultural Diversity Project and Casa Latina are sponsoring this visit. For further information, please contact Janice Welsch ( / 309-298-2057), J.Q. Adams ( / 309-298-3698) or Alda Godines ( / 309-298-3379).

View our other 2007 speakers