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Immigration, Motherhood and Parental Involvement

Narratives of Communal Agency in the Face of Power Asymmetry


Lilian Cibils

Immigration, Motherhood and Parental Involvement is based on the vivid accounts of seven Latina immigrant women of how they learned to navigate the school system in the rural southwest of the United States. Their stories are presented within several contexts, the socio-political conditions of immigration overarching them all. The process of acquiring a new socio-cultural script offers a common frame to the narratives, which illustrate the central role of the community in finding spaces for agency in circumstances of vulnerability. As a contribution to educational theory, this book explores the official discourse of parental involvement within the broader context of social policy by pointing to a common underlying ideal parent norm across areas of policy related to family and women. It also revisits the concept of parental involvement through contrasting ideologies of motherhood, as it applies the concept of participation parity in everyday institutional interactions as a fundamental measure of social justice. Immigration, Motherhood and Parental Involvement offers deep insight into the institutionalized patterns of formal inclusion/informal exclusion in the relationship of schools with Latina immigrant mothers, even within the best intended programs. Its focus on the persistent need for the implementation of culturally and linguistically sensitive approaches to home-school relations makes this a must-read for undergraduate and graduate courses in teacher education, education leadership and sociology of education. Teachers, administrators and policymakers committed to moving away from the prevalent view of mothers as people who mainly need to be educated also need to read this book.

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Chapter 1. The Big Picture: Immigration, Vulnerability and Marginalization



The Big Picture

Immigration, Vulnerability and Marginalization

All too often the freedom that Western women prize is won at the price of the enslavement of women elsewhere. To deny this fact is to deny the link between global capital and the local capitalist regime which governs our lives. When we remember that women are half of the human race, the poorest citizens on the planet performing approximately two-­thirds of the world’s work and earning about one tenth of the world’s income and less than one-­hundredth of its property, we face more directly the interconnectedness of race, class, and gender. (hooks, 2000, p. 161)

The fundamental concern with social justice in the relationship of immigrant mothers with their children’s schools at the basis of this book requires that we consider the broader context of the social conditions associated with immigration in the United States and the role of institutions in reproducing domination and oppression in the interactions of everyday life. This chapter provides an outline of some of the relevant transnational and national factors intervening in the phenomenon of immigration, explores it as a gendered experience, and exposes some of the crucial facets of the transition undergone by recent immigrant families of students entering the US school system.←7 | 8→

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