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Intersectionality & Higher Education

Theory, Research, & Praxis

Donald Jr. Mitchell, Charlana Simmons and Lindsay A. Greyerbiehl

Intersectionality is a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. A scholar of law, critical race theory, and Black feminist thought, Crenshaw used intersectionality to explain the experiences of Black women who – because of the intersections of race, gender, and class – are exposed to exponential forms of marginalization and oppression. Intersectionality & Higher Education documents and expands upon Crenshaw’s ideas within the context of U.S. higher education. The text includes theoretical and conceptual chapters on intersectionality; empirical research using intersectionality frameworks; and chapters focusing on intersectional practices. The volume may prove beneficial for graduate programs in ethnic studies, higher education, sociology, student affairs, and women and gender studies alike.
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Chapter Five: Contextualizing the Higher Education Pathways of Undocumented Students


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Undocumented immigrants, as well as their U.S.-born offspring, are experiencing uncertain futures due to the contentious and uneven development of laws and policies affecting their access to higher education (Abrego & Gonzales, 2010). Similarly, undocumented children who were brought to the United States by their parents at a young age are also affected by these laws and policies that relate to access to higher education and financial aid resources (Flores, 2010b). This chapter examines higher education policy and practice with a focus on contextualizing the educational experience of undocumented students as they navigate the higher education landscape. Higher education institutions have long incorporated notions of diversity, inclusiveness, and equity within their organizational missions (Locks, Hurtado, Bowman, & Oseguera, 2008). Still, the place of undocumented students within this framework is at a nebulous point, and further exploration is necessary. Are the higher education organizational structures, policies, practices, and campus climates congruous with inclusivity in relation to the educational experiences of undocumented students? This chapter explores the concept of the intersecting identities of undocumented students, as well as the question of what still needs to be accomplished from an organizational learning standpoint with respect to higher education institutional transformation.

Undocumented students must navigate many layers of identity that illustrate their intersectionalities. Their multifaceted identities may include college student, family member, national identities, regional identities, and multi-ethnic ← 55 | 56 → identities; these are in addition to other identities...

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