The Secundarias Comunitarias Indigenas of Oaxaca

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Practices and Tensions in the Decolonization of Indigenous Education

The Secundarias Comunitarias Indígenas (SCI) were designed a decade ago by dissident bilingual teachers in Oaxaca as an alternative to the Educación Intercultural Bilingüe (EIB) curriculum decreed by the national Ministry in the 1990s. The objective has been to ground formal schooling in communal knowledge and values by allowing students and villagers to determine year-long research projects in order to articulate indigenous knowledge with pertinent curricular contents. Students interview village elders as bearers of local knowledge and then study relevant topics from a variety of sources and produce reports to be shared with the community and with students of other SCIs. Julieta Briseño did her fieldwork in a Mixe community, Santa María Tiltepec, between 2014-2016. This presentation summarizes her forthcoming dissertation, and examines the history and tensions surrounding the development of decolonial alternatives within public schools.

Julieta Briseño Roa entered the PhD program in Educational Research, at the Center for Research and Advanced Studies, Mexico, in 2014. Her research interests include communality and the decolonial perspective, community school practices, and indigenous knowledge systems. Between her Master’s degree in Anthropology and the doctoral program, she was involved in various educational projects for indigenous population in Mexico and was professor of intercultural higher education in Oaxaca. In 2016, she spent four months in Brazil with the Indigenous Population Studies Center (NEPI) on the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC). She has published an article with partial results of the dissertation research, available at:

Elsie Rockwell is a Tinker Visiting Professor at ILAS and a Full Professor at the Department of Educational Research of the Center for Research and Advanced Studies in Mexico since 1975. Trained in both History and Anthropology, she has conducted research in Mexico on the history of schooling and post-revolutionary state formation, policies and practices in rural/indigenous schools, and the literacy/orality matrix both within classrooms and in communities. She has advised over 30 graduate students in these lines of research. Dr. Rockwell has close relations with many Latin American anthropologists and historians of education, particularly in Argentina, Chile and Brazil, and is an active member of ISCHE and of AAA. She has also done ethnographic research with French colleagues on language instruction in Parisian schools with African immigrant children. Her current project addresses the early 20th century spread of the doctrine of “adapted” education for “indigenous” peoples. It focusses on the different interpretations this concept had in the cases of Mexico and French West Africa, while exploring the influence of Anthropology on educators, including many who studied at Columbia University and Teachers College during that period.