UTSA education professors to travel to Spain, Portugal for summer institutes

Lilliana Saldana and Marco Cervantes

Lilliana Saldana and Marco Cervantes

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(June 13, 2014) -- Two faculty members from the UTSA College of Education and Human Development (COEHD) Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies will travel abroad this summer to take part in two summer institutes.

Lilliana Saldana and Marco Cervantes, assistant professors of bicultural-bilingual studies, will travel to Coimbra, Portugal, and Barcelona, Spain, respectively, to conduct international research. Both were selected to attend the institutes from a pool of applicants from around the world.

Saldana will participate in the Learning from the South: Towards Intercultural Translations Summer Institute and the Epistemologies of the South-South, South-North and North-South Global Learnings International Colloquium from June 30 to July 12 at the University of Coimbra. Both the institute and colloquium are coordinated by the ALICE Project.

"I want to learn how other scholars are thinking about the impact of colonialism," said Saldana. "I really want to learn what teachers are doing in different countries, for example, in South African or in Latin America, to create different ways of teaching and learning. That's what motivated me to participate in this program."

Currently, Saldana is researching the coloniality of education in San Antonio and plans to apply what she learns from the institute this summer to her research and upcoming publications, including a manuscript on decolonial pedagogies through hip-hop and nueva canción with Cervantes and a manuscript that looks at the ways teachers enact a curriculum of embodied knowledge to impart knowledge.

"I am going to be looking at the ways in which Mexican-American teachers negotiate the curriculum," Saldana said. "I am looking specifically at that space between what they have to teach, because it is mandated by the state, and what they want their students to learn about the world. What I'm finding is that teachers who are products of public education and who are products of colonial education, which includes language, oppression and cultural exclusion, create an alternative space for teaching and learning."

Cervantes will participate in the Decolonizing Knowledge and Power Summer Institute from July 7 to July 17. The institute, hosted by the Diáleg Global Center of Study and Investigation for Global Dialogues, will focus on post-colonialism and its impact on society, education and culture.

"During the institute, I'm hoping to research and write about decolonial teaching models and ways to enhance our Bicultural-Bilingual Studies and Mexican American Studies classes here at UTSA," said Cervantes. "I'm most excited about meeting and working with theorists who are engaged in African diasporic research. One of the areas I feel I need to broaden my awareness of is the concept of the African diaspora and what that means in different contexts."

While in Spain, Cervantes said he plans to interview several Spanish hip-hop artists and perform a couple of concerts under the stage name Mex Step. This, he hopes, will help further his research into the cultural fusions of African-American and Mexican-American music.

"Hip-hop is a real Americanized art form, and it's interesting to see the way Spanish artists reinterpret it for their own culture," said Cervantes. "These artists are reaching a lot of people, and I think that what they are doing with their music is, in a lot of ways, educating those around them. The artists are very politically aware. It's really interesting to see how they are using hip-hop music to educate."

This will be the first time both Saldana and Cervantes will participate in their respective summer institutes, which is something they are both excited about.

"I'm really excited to meet some of these leading scholars and to speak with students, activists and cultural workers that probably have the same questions as I do and who are working toward social justice in their own communities," said Saldana. "I want to learn from what they are doing to create that change and bring that back with me to see what we can do here in San Antonio."

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