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From Vasconcelos to DeVos: Exploring La Raza Cósmica and its Legacy on Educación and Mexicanidad in the Alta-Baja California Borderlands


This investigation examines the roles that public schools in the Alta-Baja California borderlands play in constructing notions of identity, specifically mexicanidad. Living in the literal margins of their respective countries, neplanterxs, or those who find themselves living in the "in between," form a unique community. Not considered when national identities were constructed in Washington, DC and Mexico City, these students have had to forge their own identity and figure out how the physical border defines them. However, how do schools on each side impact how these students see themselves? Which historical perspectives do these schools teach, and which ones should they teach? In what ways have policies shaped identities, and what steps should be taken to be support these students? This multi-modal, mixed methods, bilingual, and binational research project explores these questions and more. Through historical research, this project seeks to shed light on the institutional role school systems have played in forming and disseminating Mexican and US American identities, as well as how many neplanterxs have sought to embrace both. Likewise, one-on-one interviews were conducted with college students from both sides of the border to learn more about their educational experiences, their social science curricula, and their understandings of who and where they are. Ultimately, this thesis aims to demonstrate how the concept of binationality has largely been ignored by the schools in this area, leaving students to navigate this conflict on their own. As the students expressed a strong desire for more course material focused on this particular region, regardless of the border’s arbitrary placement, ideally this research project would be used to motivate educators and policymakers to implement culturally responsive teaching strategies out of respect for their needs and wishes.

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