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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 8. Mediated Interactions: Translation, Interpretation and Power Asymmetry



Mediated Interactions

Translation, Interpretation and Power Asymmetry

But in parent-­teacher conferences these multiparty exchanges were even more complex than the kinds of interpreter-­mediated interactions […]. In these encounters, interpreters were multiply positioned. They were children whose social, linguistic, moral, and academic trajectories were being evaluated by their parents and teachers; they were both the objects of those evaluations and the vehicles for transmitting them. (Orellana, 2009, p. 78)

The women who shared their stories were aware of the fact that the quality of the communication and ultimately the outcome of their interactions depended heavily on how it was being translated and, thus, on who was assigned to act as interpreter on each occasion. In a community where a large percentage of the population is considered bilingual to a certain degree, it is often the case that the intricacies of the highly demanding tasks of translating and interpreting and the sophistication of the skills required may be underestimated and the work of translation undervalued. In this chapter, in most cases, the term translation is used in its broader meaning which includes both writing and speech, while interpretation refers only to oral communication across languages.

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