Critical Ethnic Studies Senior Integrated Projects

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This collection includes Senior Integrated Projects (SIPs, formerly known as Senior Individualized Projects) completed in the Critical Ethnic Studies Major. Abstracts are generally available to the public, but PDF files are available only to current Kalamazoo College students, faculty, and staff.

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    A Case for Shapeshifting
    (2023-03-01) Salvatierra, Gi Patricia; Salinas, Shanna, 1975-
    Through a series of essays, interviews, poems, illustrations, and a single speech, A Case for Shapeshifting thinks through and recognizes the ability to be shaped by change and to shape change. By identifying beings as “Shapeshifters”, A Case for Shapeshifting not only highlights the fluidity and complexities in our transformative abilities, but positions our capacities within networks of social change. Organized into four parts (The Framework, Responding to Decolonial Theory, Shapeshifting in New Orleans, and Gi’s Traveling Show), this collection traverses various geographies, communities, and genres to propose and explore Shapeshifting as an effective, accessible framework for transforming culture.
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    BIPOC Educational Spaces : An Analysis of Personal Experiences Working in Kalamazoo Public Elementary Schools
    (2023-03-01) Kinch, Phoebe; Salinas, Shanna, 1975-
    Within this paper I seek to detail and record a collective experience as a childcare worker within Kalamazoo Public Schools, as established through my personal experiences and my coworkers’ and other employees’ who have also worked and gathered experiences within similar circumstances. In doing so I have conducted informal interviews to gather the stories and experiences of those who have worked in similar spaces through the YMCA and other before- and after-school programming. That of which I will refer to by pseudonyms to protect their identities. They are as follows: Coworker at King Westwood Elementary is Jenny, Coworker at Prairie Ridge is Sam, Friend and College who works at Spring Valley is Violet, and a faculty member at Parkwood is Ms. Johnson. Through this I seek to capture the unique aspects of Kalamazoo Public Schools and the ways in which they engage and impact the children and families they serve. I plan to contextualize this collective childcare worker narrative with theory and further research that may provide understanding of said experiences and the implications they have for the children present. This process of collecting stories and recording them has provided me with new insight and perspective because it allowed me to gather both the corroborations and contradictions that shape the unique setting and experience of Kalamazoo Public schools.
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    Envisioning a Better Education for Our Kids : An Exploration of the Summer Camp Experience
    (2022-11-01) Lignell, Connor; Garcia-Weyandt, Cyndy
    This SIP brings to light the importance of education outside of traditional Western academia, through the use of summer camps. Since 2016, I have worked as a camp counselor at a camp in Northern Michigan called Camp Al-Gon-Quian (AGQ). This camp sees around 2,000 come through every summer for anytime from 3 days to 3 months. AGQ works to provide a well-balanced experience that will support and encourage each and every camper to step out of their comfort zone to try new experiences and make new friends. While working here, I have come to realize how important this experience is to kids, they have the opportunity to make choices removed from their parents, learn to live in a shared space, as well as learning how to make decisions that benefit the entire community rather than just themself. By providing this opportunity, we teach kids at a young age the importance of learning outside of Western academia, and how much more there is that is just as important to learn. I work in this SIP to educate people who are not aware of why summer camps are important and essential to a child's development, as well as how we can make them more sustainable and accessible to a wider variety of kids. Throughout this paper, I base my methodologies on the works of Indigenous people and the work that they have been doing for thousands of years. I talk about what it looks like to decolonize our idea of education and what it means to productively learn, as well as how we can better understand the Earth that we are so lucky to be living on. It should also be made clear that in no way am I trying to claim Indigenous knowledge as my own, but rather grapple with the knowledge shared by Indigenous peoples as the groundwork for my paper.
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    Reciprocal and Collaborative Work in Oaxaca: The Story of Los Mecos, the Traditional Dance of San Juan Bautista Coixtlahuaca
    (2023-01-01) Stillerman-Flores, Micaela; Garcia-Weyandt, Cyndy
    This text seeks to critically examine different forms of cross-cultural investigation through an anti-colonial lens, beginning to hopefully undo often extractive relationships between academics and indigenous communities. The work will emphasize a reciprocal approach in which this project will be conducted as a collaborative effort between myself and the community of Coixtlahuaca in contribution to the indigenous culture revitalization work and activism that is already being done. This is accomplished by applying a mixed-method approach in which I utilize group interviews, participant observation, and photography to archive, record, and preserve a traditional dance in Coixtlahuaca, La Danza de Los Mecos.
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    On the Importance of Indigenous Language Revitalization in Sustaining Sacred Relationship with Nature in Oaxaca, Mexico
    (2021-02-01) Goebel, Sophia; Garcia-Weyandt, Cyndy
    This project explores the ways in which language is organized by distinct cultural values surrounding human relationship with nature. In particular, many indigenous languages demonstrate the capacity for mutually beneficial relationships of respect with all non-human life, whereas many of the languages of the colonial forces of the world do not, offering instead an arrangement of grammar that reflects relationships of domination and exploitation. As a student of a number of indigenous communities in Oaxaca, Mexico, I was fortunate to participate in conversations about the complexities of this investigation with people who know, far more than I ever will, the truths of speaking a language that holds respect for nature and the consequences of contact with those that do not. I begin with an examination of the theoretical fibers that link language and culture, culture and land, land and language. Central to this work is a short linguistic analysis of some of the grammatical organization of the indigenous language of Zapotec that delves into exactly how a relationship of care, rather than subjugation, manifests in the actual rules of a language. Then, I address the impending threat of global language loss along with fragments of the colonial history of Mexico that imperiled her indigenous languages. Specifically, this project addresses the role of education as both a tool of empire and platform for resistance and the assertion of cultural rights. Language revitalization programs, fomented by organizations of Oaxaca’s indigenous communities and the state’s robust education movements, are a primary tool for beginning to heal some of the damage wrought by colonial schooling. As a culmination of this work, I offer a workshop proposal that would aim to explore place names (one aspect of the connection between language and land) with young indigenous students. This is as an exercise in praxis and a form of service to the organizations that helped me throughout the development of this project. In the face of ongoing colonial language suppression and increased pressure towards a globalized, unified culture of capitalism, language revitalization projects that nurture and sustain indigenous languages are an integral part of the right to maintain sacred cultural connection with land and bequeath that connection to the future.
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