Date of Degree

9-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Urban Education

Advisor(s)

Kenneth Tobin

Subject Categories

Education | Ethnic Studies

Keywords

Culturally relevant pedagogy; Cultural responsiveness; Early Childhood; Mexican Education & History; Minority Academic Success; Music & Dance Education

Abstract

The research undertaken for this study centers on outside-of-school teaching and learning through the practice of traditional Mexican music and dance (folkloric musical culture or folklórico) as transmitted to children of early childhood age in a New York urban ethnocultural dance community. The study focuses on the ways in which the traditional Mexican music and dance community, as cultural producers, pass along knowledge and inherent values of Mexican heritage and on how the process of acculturation includes changes imparted through progressive western approaches to teaching movement.

The study incorporates a long-term sociohistorical perspective in order to contextualize the place of musical culture in the long, rich history of Mexico's people. Using a hermeneutic phenomenological approach, this work offers a critical lens that reveals how the performance of folklórico maintains links between a symbolic imagined past and life in present times. To establish a context for the relevance of Mexican music and dance as practiced in a largely immigrant community, this essay also includes background on the dynamics of the U.S.-Mexican relationship and dance and music history that reviews their metamorphosis from the pre-Conquest period to modern day, and on the relevance of musical culture to the forging of Mexican nationhood and national identity. How do an ethnic community-based music and dance program and its practices support the emergence of Mexican identity?

Ways of learning that extend beyond systematized educational institutions can make fundamental contributions to children's identities. The realms of everyday practices, which encompass participation in customs embodied in Mexican musical culture, cultivate a sense of 'Mexicanness' (mexicanidad). Traditional Mexican dance and music are not only celebratory; rather they are fundamentally part of identity and nationhood for Mexicans. Social networks have developed through these means in New York City's Mexican diaspora, and their musical culture contributed to structuring social spaces within U.S. mainstream society. The signification of mexicanidad represented by music and dance, promotes a sense of belonging, engendering agency and empowerment in this urban community.

This study implies that equitable learning communities would uphold a pluriethnic view of knowledge and advocates for that perspective. Such an approach would honor the histories, traditions, and practices of the multitude of people that make up the U.S. nation and appreciate their value. This case study endeavors to make a contribution to that end.

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