Deep Dish - Gotitas de Saber: Disrupting Master Narratives of Latinidad through the Testimonio of Passing as Mexican

Thursday, September 22, 2016 -
12:00pm to 1:00pm
Joanna Sanchez-Avila
McClelland Park Building, Room 402

Identity formation is deeply influenced by multiple factors such as im/migration, education, nationality and ethnic nationality, cultural heritage, individual and collective memories, and discourses of belonging and unbelonging. Such discourses produce almost mythic narratives within social groups’ collective memory, which further facilitate sensations of belonging or alienation. Those who exist within the margins perhaps living in fear sometimes develop survival tactics to protect their distinct identities. In this presentation I utilize autobiographical memory as a conceptual framework to understand and unpack my personal memories as a Hondureña-Americanah passing as Mexican. For me, passing as Mexican was a survival strategy that I used in my young life. It was a complex and painful survival strategy that has helped me gain insight into the complexities of diaspora and the various threads of Latinidad that exist. Similarly, it has highlighted the troubling issues that are silenced by dominant narratives about who gets to claim Latinidad, while individuals also struggle to navigate the complexities of assimilation in the United States and assimilation in the dominant minority culture. Through testimonio I excerpt individual memories that highlight the identity challenges that come from attempts of embodying a fixed definition of what it means to be American and Honduran-American.

Joanna E. Sanchez-Avila is a third-year doctoral student in the Rhetoric, Composition, and the Teaching of English program at the University of Arizona with research interests in memory studies: autobiographical memory; haunting/s as counter-memory; and how transcultural memory aids identity formations of and by Honduran and Honduran-Americans through material cultural productions; in addition to interests in feminist pedagogy and research methodologies. She adamantly believes in the potential of everyday stories that can be crafted through many creative outlets such as spoken word, photography, or utilizing the ‘style as resistance’ ethos in fa(t)shion.