MyAmericanFuture

MyAmericanFuture
MyAmericanFuture

Saturday, January 28, 2012

January 28-29, 2012: Communal Education

My Mexican American Studies knowledge has come from, and will continue to depend on, lots and lots of American voices.

As I was completing this past week’s series of blog posts on Mexican American Studies and the many ways it can contribute to our national narratives and identities, it struck me that it might have seemed as if I was trying to position myself as an expert in the field or on those questions. Obviously that’s a potential (or even unavoidable) danger to public scholarly work in general, and neither do I want to go to the other extreme and pretend that I don’t believe I have perspectives and narratives and ideas to contribute to our national conversations (why else would I be here?). But the truth, and one that it’s just as important to highlight here, is both that I have learned almost all I know about the field from other impressive voices and scholars and that I very much hope to continue learning from lots more (including, quite possibly, you!).

It most definitely has taken a village to help me understand even some of the histories, voices, and stories that comprise Mexican American and Latin American Studies, and I can only highlight a few of the more influential villagers here. My undergraduate courses in Latin American literature (with the amazing Bruno Bosteels) and history (with the equally inspiring John Womack) were absolutely foundational, as were conversations with my roommate, Latin American historian in training, and Womack’s thesis advisee, Chile Hidalgo. More recently, I’ve learned all that I know about contemporary Mexican and Latin American writers from my American Writers Museum colleagues, including Frances Aparicio and Reg Gibbons. And in the past few weeks, my new connections to and conversations on the #Latism Twitter network, as organized by Elianne Ramos, has exponentially expanded my connections to the many different sides of Latin American Studies and communities.

I can’t imagine a worse quality for a public scholar or an American Studier to possess than a certainty that we know enough (or even close to enough) about our fields or topics, though, and I hope that I never come to feel that way. I can and hopefully will continue to learn about Mexican American and Latin American Studies from all of those aforementioned voices, from colleagues and students, and from connections I can’t even imagine right now. But I can most definitely imagine you, blog readers, and so I will ask you explicitly to share your knowledge and perspectives, your ideas and voices, with me and with all of us in this space. Add a comment on this post, add a thread in the Forum, email me (brailton@fitchburgstate.edu) an analytical piece for that page under Resources, send me a Tweet (@AmericanStudier) with your ideas … just, por favor, contribute to my and our continuing communal education in whatever ways you can and want to!

More next week,

Ben

PS. You know what to do!

1/28 Memory Day nominee: José Martí, the Cuban American revolutionary, political and social activist and leader, journalist and translator and essayist and poet, and general transnational Renaissance American whose essay “Our America” makes a perfect case for precisely that transnational American Studies identity and community.

1/29 Memory Day nominee: Edward Abbey, the pioneering environmentalist, naturalist, and activist whose books Desert Solitaire and The Monkey Wrench Gang (among many others) join the works of Thoreau, John Muir, and Rachel Carson at the summit of American naturalist and activist writing.

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