Teachers’ Memories of Schooling: The Sociocultural Injuries and the Mis-Education of Mexican Teachers in the Barrio

Lilliana P. Saldaña


Relying on life history and memory as methodology, this essay unearths the memories of schooling of five Mexican American teachers at a dual-language school in San Antonio, locating their memories of trauma within the history of language oppression and cultural exclusion in U.S. public schools. In re(membering) their schooling experiences as working-class, Spanish-speaking, racialized students in San Antonio’s segregated Westside, teachers pointed to schools as the source of their miseducation and trauma and framed these experiences within a shared history of institutionalized language oppression and educational inequality. Historias, semi-structured life history interviews, and conocimiento—reflexive and dialogical focus groups—reveal that teachers’ memories of racialized cultural violence in schools are central to their personal and professional identity formation.As ethnic/ race teachers with embodied knowledge of racialized cultural violence, they transform the culture of schooling for Mexican origin students as they move within the dialectic of domination and empowerment in their everyday teaching practices.


teachers; life story; memory

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