Entre el Sur y el Norte

Decolonizing Education through Critical Readings of Chicana/x/o, Mexican, and Indigenous Music

by Marco Cervantes (Volume editor) Lilliana P. Saldaña (Volume editor)
©2022 Textbook XII, 238 Pages


Entre el Sur y el Norte highlights an important social problem within our education systems, which continue to rely on colonial models for teaching and learning. While scholars have offered critiques of schools as sites of social reproduction and schools as sites of educational inequality for students of color, few have examined the ways in which schools in the United States continue to promote colonial models of teaching and learning. This is particularly important given contemporary discourses of academic success that promote inclusion, diversity, and multiculturalism—practices that are often framed within colonial perspectives of the "other." This book examines music as a site of anti-colonial resistance and decolonial praxis in schools.
Grounded on the premise that education is a political act, the authors draw from creative forms and styles that problematize what decolonial scholars call the "colonial matrix of power" in shaping the Latino subaltern experience. Using music as a political and aesthetic expression against empire, the authors argue that the study of Latinx musical forms offers students possibilities to critique and delink from coloniality in their everyday lives.
Committed to decoloniality as a political, epistemological, and spiritual project, the authors are intent on creating spaces that value transcultural understanding and solidarity between and across subaltern peoples of the Global North and the Global South, with particular attention to Chicanas and Chicanos and Latinas and Latinos in the United States and other peoples in the hemisphere. Musical forms provide ways to critically explore and engage in decolonial horizons that break silences, disrupt dominant narratives, and create a transformative consciousness among our students, particularly around issues of economic globalization, immigrant rights, cultural resistance, ethnic relations, poverty, and educational inequality in the Americas.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Figures
  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. Decolonizing Pedagogies entre el Sur y el Norte: Healing, Resistance and Social Change through Music (Marco Cervantes and Lilliana P. Saldaña)
  • Transborder Movements
  • 2. Mujeres del Viento Florido: First Transborder Gathering of Indigenous Women Musicians in Santa María Tlahuitoltepec, Mixe Oaxaca (Xóchitl Chávez and Mercedes Alejandra Payán Ramírez)
  • 3. El Tallercito de Son SATX: Creando Comunidad a Través de la Cultura (Keli Rosa Cabunoc)
  • 4. Decolonizing, Healing and Evoking Resistance through Music: Crossing Ideological and Colonial Borders Using Transmedia and Experiential Educational Approaches (Iris Rodriguez)
  • Decolonization Within the Walls Higher Education
  • 5. Towards a Decolonial Feminist Hip-Hop (Melissa Castillo Planas and Audry Funk)
  • 6. Toward Decolonial Teaching in Ethnomusicology: Learning Elements of Afro-Caribbean and Mexican Traditional Music as Participatory Pedagogy (Alexandro D. Hernández)
  • 7. Mapping el Movimiento: Decolonizing the Classroom through Chicano Musical Performance Pedagogy (Noe Ramirez)
  • Reflections on the Path to Decolonial Pedagogies
  • 8. Reconstructing Music Education: One Chicana’s Journey (Rachel Yvonne Cruz)
  • 9. “Has Algo”: Reading and Writing in a Chicanx Punk Pedagogy (Olivia Jean Hernández)
  • 10. Unsettling Social Justice Teacher Education: An Intergenerational Exploration of Music as Healing, Survivance, and Pedagogy (Sean D. Hernández Adkins, Lucía I. Mock Muñoz de Luna, Tania Vargas, and Bylasan Ahmad)
  • Index
  • Series Index

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Much gratitude to all the contributors for being a part of this book project which started during one of the most violent administrations in recent memory and was completed in the midst of a pandemic that has ravaged Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities in Turtle Island and around the globe. We honor your intellectual work and creative vision to decolonize teaching/learning spaces and are grateful to learn from you on this journey. Thank you Peter Lang for your support in publishing this important contribution to decolonial studies, education, and Chicana/x/o Studies. A special thank you to the editor of this series, Margarita Machado-Casas, for your incredible guidance and support in bringing this book to life. We also thank our mentors – Marie “Keta” Miranda and Josie Méndez-Negrete for nurturing our activism and scholarship throughout the years – and students and colleagues in the Mexican American Studies program for affirming music in academia. And mil gracias to our SOMOS MAS family in San Antonio for building a community of activist scholars-teachers-cultural workers who are decolonizing education and transforming the culture of schooling in San Antonio and beyond.

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Decolonizing Pedagogies entre el Sur y el Norte: Healing, Resistance and Social Change through Music

Marco Cervantes and Lilliana P. Saldaña

The life-giving power of music has sustained the survival of Chicana/x/o, Mexican, and Indigenous communities over five centuries of conquest, occupation, colonization, and resistance. Within the spirit of the creation-resistance (Rodriguez, 2014), this book examines music as a site of anti-colonial struggle and decolonial praxis in schools and communities within and beyond the colonial border that divides Mexico and the U.S. Premised on the emancipatory notion that schools–part and parcel of the “colonial matrix of power” (Quijano, 2000) – can engender a decolonial imaginary and praxis (Pérez, 1999), we compiled this reader to provoke consciousness and cultivate decolonial approaches to teaching and learning through the critical study, performance, and creation of musical expressions. Moreover, this reader examines music as a site of healing, remembering, revitalizing, restoring, celebrating, returning, connecting, and envisioning possibilities for humanization in schools and community-based teaching/learning spaces (Smith, 2012).

As scholars committed to decolonization as a political, epistemic, spiritual, and cultural project across the continent, we examine transcultural understandings and solidarity between and across subaltern peoples of the Global North and the Global South, with particular attention to Chicana/x/o music. Music provides ways to critically explore epistemic erasures, disrupt colonial narratives, and create spaces for transformative consciousness among children and youth, particularly around issues of economic domination, migrant rights, transborder resistance, institutionalized racism, epistemic and cultural erasure, and educational inequity. We hope this collection can add ←1 | 2→to the growing possibilities towards decoloniality in our communities and abroad.

There currently is not a text that focuses solely on decolonizing education through Chicana/x/o, Mexican and Indigenous music, though scholars of Chicana/x/o music have worked to interrogate, question, and analyze music in ways that have established groundwork to further push for decolonial readings of Chicana/x/o musical expression. The contributors in this volume engage various decolonial schools of thought and connect these with Chicana/x/o borderlands epistemologies to offer new insights on how teacher-scholar-musician-activists can decolonize, indigenize, and challenge Western imperialist practices inside schools and community spaces, from K-12 classrooms, academia, and communal learning/teaching spaces. We offer new articulations on music, pedagogy, and decoloniality that take place within and across the political locations of what post-development scholars refer to as the “Global South” and the “Global North.” Scholars like Boaventura de Sousa Santos argue that coloniality is reinscribed through global capitalism within and across southern territories and nations, which are often referred to as the Global South, and northern territories and nations, which are often referred to as the Global North. Within this framework, the “Global South” includes those countries and territories that are victimized by the Global North’s “voracity of capitalism, colonialism, patriarchy and all their satellite-oppressions” (Santos, p. 3–4, 2014). In challenging these dehumanizing relations of power, we call for a “decolonial turn”—a paradigm shift that requires us to center our own epistemologies in our collective efforts to dismantle coloniality (Maldonado-Torres, 2011).

It’s important to note that the contributors in this book do not analyze coloniality from a place of a disembodied knowledge; on the contrary, they write from their own lived experiences as Chicana/x/o and Indigenous educators, transborder activists, musicians, and scholars who create, research, sustain, and teach music to cultivate consciousness and decolonized subjectivities, and offer new ways of coming to knowledge through sound, voice, and movement of the bodyspiritmind. Martha Gonzalez (2020) writes about the artistic and activist work of Chicana/x/o “artivistas” and the importance of “convivencia,” or “being present and engaging together in mind, body and spirit via participatory music and art practice” (p. 13). We acknowledge that decolonization is not an abstract in the global imaginary, nor a metaphor for other social justice projects (Tuck & Yang, 2012), but realized in our communities’ creative expressions. Creating music, whether for spiritual, political, or pedagogical purposes, is a part of what Raza Studies scholar Roberto “Cintli” Rodriguez (2015) calls creation-resistance, where the act of ←2 | 3→creating and resisting (reacting against) are both equally important strategies for humanization and social justice.1

Decolonization and Decoloniality

As Chicana/x/o studies scholars committed to decolonization as a political-spiritual-epistemic project, we center the perspectives, cosmologies, and worldviews of critical thinkers from the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. In this sense, the work of Chicana feminist and queer theorists like Gloria Anzaldúa and Emma Pérez are important in offering new epistemologies that emerge from their subalternized racial/ethnic critiques of Western epistemology. In her essay, “Nepantla, el lugar de la frontera,” Gloria Anzaldúa (2015) writes on the importance of border artists and border arte in decolonial movements. As Anzaldúa notes, border artists who inhabit the transitional spaces of nepantla “cambian el punto de referencia” or change the frame of reference (p. 49) and create possibilities for “shifting identities, border crossings, and hybridism --- all strategies for decolonization” (p. 63). Like border artists, educators who create, preserve, and teach through music, decolonize occupied teaching/learning spaces (Anzaldúa, p. 49). This is particularly important for Chicanas/xs/os and Indigenous people who have “been stripped of our history, language, identity, and pride” as “we attempt again and again to find what we have lost by digging into our cultural roots imaginatively and making art from our findings” (p. 48).

Anzaldúa reminds us that the process of decolonization is also full of contradictions, tensions, and ambiguities that require constant self-reflection in our praxis, particularly for those living in cultural, spiritual, and linguistic, and psychological borderlands where we are at once fighting against oppressive “traditions” while creating oppositional ways of knowing that counter Western approaches to learning, teaching, and being—what Anzaldúa (1999) called “new mestiza consciousness.” For Anzaldúa, decolonization is a political, spiritual, and creative process that happens within the self before it materializes at the institutional and structural levels and within our communities of practice.

Historian Emma Pérez critiques traditional approaches to history that ignore transborder migrations, diasporas, gender, and sexuality in colonial heteropatriarchal historiography, and proposes a “decolonial imaginary” to challenge Western and androcentric perspectives that leave queer and transborder women out of writing. Through a “decolonial imaginary,” Chicana/x/o scholars are able to create an “interstitial space where differential politics and social dilemmas are negotiated” and where colonial narratives are ←3 | 4→disrupted (p. 6). Within this spirit, educators-musicians-activists draw from music to create a rupturing space where they and their students alike can bring forth new interpretations of their world – where they can breakdown binaries of oppressed/victimized and oppressor/victimizer to “[negotiate] … a decolonizing otherness where all identities are at work in one way or another” (p. 6). In other words, teaching with and through music can create another consciousness – an oppositional consciousness which, as Chela Sandoval notes in her work, can serve as “politically effective means for transforming dominant power relations” (p. 43).


XII, 238
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2022 (November)
Colonial matrix of power Decolonial imaginary Global South Global North Decolonial turn Creation resistance Mestiza consciousness Coloniality Pensamiento fronterizo Chicana/x/o Studies Geopolitics of knowledge Culturally sustaining pedagogies Corrido, corridos Decolonizing diasporas Entre El Sur y el Norte Decolonizing Education through Critical Readings of Chicana/x/o, Mexican, and Indigenous Music Marco Cervantes Lilliana P. Saldaña
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2022. XII, 238 pp., 6 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Marco Cervantes (Volume editor) Lilliana P. Saldaña (Volume editor)

Marco Cervantes, Ph.D. is Associate Professor in the Department of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Mexican American Studies Program at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He has published in the American Quarterly, Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, Association of Mexican American Educators, and Liminalities: Journal of Performance Studies. He is a DJ, producer, and MC and goes by the name Mex Step. He is also in the hip hop group Third Root. Lilliana P. Saldaña, Ph.D. is from Yanawana, an occupied territory known as San Antonio, Texas, and is Associate Professor of Mexican American Studies (MAS) at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Saldaña's research draws from Chicana/x/o studies methodologies, decolonial theory, and Chicana feminist thought to examine teacher identity and consciousness, epistemic struggles in education, and settler colonial/decolonial schooling practices. She has published in nationally recognized journals, including Latinos & Education, Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, and Association of Mexican American Educators. Saldaña has collaborated on statewide organizing efforts to expand MAS in Texas K-12 schools through Somos MAS and the regional chapter of the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies. As a public scholar, she also serves the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, which promotes social justice through cultural arts programming and historical preservation, and the Mexican American Civil Rights Institute (MACRI), a national organization dedicated to chronicling and sharing historic and contemporary civil rights milestones.


Title: Entre el Sur y el Norte
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252 pages