On indigenous silences: Timothy J. San Pedro, ‘Silence as Shields: Agency and Resistances among Native American Students in the Urban Southwest’, Research in the Teaching of English, 50, 2, 2015, pp. 132-153
Abstract: This article discusses findings from a three-year ethnographic study of an ethnic studies course called Native American literature, which began during the passing of legislation that banned the teaching of ethnic studies in Arizona’s public and charter schools. The data analyzed here explore the ways students use silence as a form of critical literacy—or critical silent literacies—in response to racial microaggressions enacted by their peers, their teachers, or a combination of both. This framing of silence questions common assumptions that Native American students are silent because of their biological, inherent, and/or cultural “traits.” Challenging such assumptions, Native American students in this study reveal that as they attempt to voice their ideas, they are repeatedly silenced because their knowledges counter the dominant settler knowledges taught in public schools. As a result, they discuss how their silence has been used over time as a resistance strategy to shield themselves, their identities, and their family and community knowledges from dominant, monocultural knowledges with which they did not agree.
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