Document Type

Podium Presentation

Presentation Date



Annual Meetings of the American Anthropological Association


Washington, DC

Abstract/Presentation Excerpt

Storytelling is cultural practice long used by African Americans, Latinxs and Native Americans to understand and resist American structures of inequity and oppression. In this paper, I explore the relationship between the social context of storytelling and the construction of Latinx student identities using ethnographic data gathered during 8 months of fieldwork with nine middle school students from Spanish speaking immigrant families in Northern California. This group of students was invited to join an after-school program together with eight students from a private Jewish day school located across the street. Although one aim of the program was to facilitate intercultural storytelling, the minoritized positionality of the Latinx students within this social context hindered their ability to tell stories about their families’ histories and their personal experiences. Once the students were invited to further develop and share their stories within a segregated classroom space, however, the act of storytelling increased students’ positive self-awareness in their ability to confront the many hardships and heartaches they were experiencing as immigrant children and the children of immigrants. What stands out in this case study is that although their storytelling experience allowed students to nurture a positive Latinx cultural identity, a critical component of storytelling--creating a space for listening and dialogue between participants with differing worldviews--was overlooked in the program.


Copyright Jennifer Lucko, 2017. All rights reserved. Please do not cite or circulate without permission from the author.