The intersection of social identities: The visual artistic narratives of English language learner students

This research project will take place in a public school in Bogota, with 38 students from 6 grade who are between 11 and 15 years of age. Some students (8) come from different parts of Colombia, but others from outside the country (3). In that sense, the idea of exploring students’ different backgrounds becomes relevant as the educational community, in general, tends to make these students invisible. This study would also allow students to unveil their experiences when they are segregated by their social identities, even more, when they intersect.

Taking that into consideration that intersectionality is the main aspect of this study, it is important to mention that scholars such as Crenshaw (1989), Collins (2000), Anzaldúa (1987), and Lugones (2005) have contributed to this field. However, both authors, Anzaldúa (1987) and Lugones (2005) included two important aspects: power and fusion, which played an important role in their writings. For Anzaldúa´s culture and family, obeying men, doing the chores, becoming a mother, and receiving physical punishment when disobeying were important. In Lugones’ case, power is presented not only as patriarchal domination but also as the oppression of a particular category (women) that does not include all the possible options (black women). This shows that power exists in minorities, even if they share a particular identity or social category. Also, both authors mention the fusion of multiple identities, as they are not separable but present in a single person; thus, aspects such as women, race, sexuality, and human being cannot be considered divided or disconnected.

This study intends

  • To comprehend the intersection of social identities within sixth graders’ language learning identities.​
  • To unveil sixth graders’ intersectional identities that emerge when they create visual artistic narratives in the EFL classroom.
  • To understand the meaning that sixth graders give to the social identities that intersect while learning English.

Using visual artistic narratives to unveil students’ experiences may have a positive impact, as it may become a way to explore the possible intersection of their social identities in the EFL classroom. Data will be collected by observing and analyzing their drawings, paintings or pictures, field notes, and video and audio recordings of their interviews. Possible healing of the bad experiences that students may have had due to their gender, social class, race, ethnicity, etc., would contribute to understanding others and being in someone else’s shoes. This would also allow them to see others’ realities and respect everyone’s right to live and be respected.