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Going Inward

The Role of Cultural Introspection in College Teaching

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Edited By Susan Diana Longerbeam and Alicia Fedelina Chávez

Going Inward is a pragmatic text for faculty in all disciplines who desire to deepen their reflection on teaching. Through the culturally introspective writings of faculty in a variety of academic disciplines, readers will gain a deeper understanding of faculty cultural influences on college teaching and student learning. This book introduces readers to cultural self-reflection as a powerful tool for insight into how our values and beliefs from our cultural and familial upbringing influence our teaching practice. Cultural self-reflection is a process for generating insights and empathy toward serving students from backgrounds and cultures both similar to and different from one’s own. The integrated design of the book’s three parts – cultural introspection, faculty culture and teaching autobiographies, and developing a culturally introspective practice – makes this book helpful to teaching faculty and academic administrators.
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Chapter Twenty-Three: The Power of Identity

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CHAPTER TWENTY - THREE

The Power OF Identity

LAURA SUJO-MONTES

Educational Specialties Northern Arizona University



What is identity? I am tempted to answer, “it all depends.” It depends on what the topic of the conversation is, if I am referring to social or personal identity, if I am engaged in a colloquial conversation or in an academic conversation, etc. Borrowing from Fearon (1999), I would say that identity is a social category that identifies membership and attributes; but it can also be said that identity is a set of specific personal characteristics that distinguish an individual and may produce feelings of pride and self-respect. In this document, I will refer to my identity as an immigrant to the United States, with the attributes that affords me, but I will also refer to my individual identity and the characteristics that generate a range of feelings: from being proud to feelings of inadequacy and everything in between.

I grew up in Mexico in a dusty town that was part of a conglomerate of three distinct and different towns that ran across state lines. When referring to the three towns, they are called “La Laguna”—The Lagoon—even though they are in the middle of the country, inland, and with no water bodies other than a river that ran through and was used for agricultural purposes. There were more than 300,000 inhabitants collectively in the three towns...

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