Conference PaperPDF Available

Unveiling Hidden Epistemologies

Unveiling Hidden Epistemologies
Miwa Aoki Takeuchi, University of Calgary,
Takeuchi, M.A. (2020, June 22). Unveiling hidden epistemologies. In K. Gutiérrez, A. Marin, N. Nasir, K.
Nzinga, P. Sengupta, M. Takeuchi, J. Vadeboncoeur, S. Vakil. Imagining socio-political and ethical horizons of the
Learning Sciences: Learning with and from junior and senior scholars. Invited special session presented at the 14th
International Conference of the Learning Sciences, Nashville, Tennessee.
In the current climate of uncertainty and difficulty that we live in, death is brought to the surface
of our daily awareness. We live in the midst of collective grief of lives that were lost.
In the year I lost my beloved younger brother, I wrote a piece in the Journal of the Learning
Sciences on friendship and learning for immigrant and refugee learners
. Being so close to my
brother’s death and seeing how his friends came to gather to share the pain, fear and injustice he
endured but also to celebrate his life, my attention shifted to acts of caring and being together
that shine light into our lives, and embrace who we are and who we want to be. Through acts of
caring, love and solidarity, we collectively hold the pain of those who have suffered from
violence. Such a decolonial space of intimacy and care in learning can be political and humanize
dehumanized or Othered bodies.
What do such intimate relationships we build with others have to do with learning and solidarity
for societal changes? We are in a field where we can take pain and fear and turn them into the
impetus for reimagining our collective experiences and histories.
Facing the overwhelming number of Black lives lost from systemic anti-Black violence and in
memory of those lives killed through injustice – Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery,
Tony McDade – Na’ilah Nasir poignantly said
: “Even as we mourn, we must take action.” The
current situation is calling for, even more than ever, our commitment to social justice and to
fight against anti-Black, anti-Indigenous violence, and systemic racism and intersectional
at large. In this light, I am grateful to scholars who pioneered and sustained critical
voices in the field of the learning sciences
. I am thankful for your activism in your scholarship,
on behalf of those who follow in your footsteps.
Imagining a future that is just and equitable, it is imperative that we carry out acts of care and
solidarity within and beyond our scholarship to fight against systemic and historical oppression.
At the core of such acts, I posit centering the experiences of those who live intersectional
oppressions rooted in politics of race, class, gender, sexuality, and language and centering
epistemologies that are often masked and hidden. Our epistemology is inseparable from our
ontology. As a queer racialized woman, the way I see disciplinary learning and schooling is
fundamentally rooted in my own lived experiences. The reason why my attention goes to hidden
ways of knowing and being is because of my struggles of hiding and being hidden. But such
voices that deviate from the mainstream norms are often pushed back, further interrogated,
pressed to straighten up, and can be hidden or ultimately vanished.
Inclusion of historically oppressed voices and bodies goes beyond representational struggles; it
can evoke an epistemological shift toward societal changes. For example, I worked with a
migrant woman activist, Virgie Aquino Ishihara, and we depicted how racialized migrant women
who were experiencing violence countered the mainstream data that did not reveal their
historically marginalized voices, toward policy changes
. As another example, to counter the
official space of schooling that can hide non-mainstream ways of doing mathematics, together
with migrant mothers, we unveiled the richness of the history behind the hidden inter-
generational embodied ways of knowing mathematics
. As we envision the future of the learning
sciences, I hope we can center and listen to the historically silenced and hidden epistemologies of
researchers and of participants alike. The learning sciences can give a space to carry out acts of
care and solidarity, together with communities, teachers, families and learners.
Continuing to mask and silence historically marginalized ways of being and knowing will
perpetuate violence against Othered and dehumanized bodies. I hope, together with colleagues
in the learning sciences, we can continue amplifying the design of the learning environments and
the field itself, where historically hidden and erased bodies and voices can come out and come
My sincere appreciation goes to those who proposed and made this session possible: Kris Gutiérrez, Victoria
Hand, Susan Jurow, José Lizarraga, Ananda Marin, Na’ilah Suad Nasir, Kalonji Nzinga, Pratim Sengupta,
Jennifer Vadeboncoeur, Sepehr Vakil, and Shirin Vossoughi. Thank you so much for all your hard work as the
International Conference of the Learning Sciences 2020 co-chairs, Melissa Gresalfi and Ilana Horn.
Takeuchi, M. A. (2016). Friendships and group work in linguistically diverse mathematics classrooms. Journal of the
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Bullock, E. C. (2018). Intersectional analysis in critical mathematics education research: A response to figure
hiding. Review of Research in Education, 42(1), 122145.
Collins, P. H. (2002). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. Routledge.
Crenshaw, K. (1991). Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women
of color. Stanford Law Review, 43(6), 12411299.
Joseph, N. M., Hailu, M. F., & Matthews, J. S. (2019). Normalizing Black girls' humanity in mathematics
classrooms. Harvard Educational Review, 89(1), 132155.
Leyva, L. A. (2016). An intersectional analysis of Latin@ college women’s counter-stories in
mathematics. Journal of Urban Mathematics Education, 9(2), 81121.
Lorde, A. (2012). Sister outsider: Essays and speeches. Crossing Press.
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Jurow, A. S., Teeters, L., Shea, M., & Van Steenis, E. (2016). Extending the consequentiality of “invisible work” in
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convergence in an engineering ethics classroom discussion on drone warfare. Journal of the Learning Sciences,
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Takeuchi, M.A. & Aquino Ishihara, V. (2020). Learning to assemble the hidden bodies: Embodied and emplaced
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ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
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Background: We situate the mobilization of mathematical literacy as a tool to see and redress social and historical dilemmas (Engeström, 2014; Gutiérrez, 2016) rooted in the geo-economic politics of race, gender, and class. Methods: Using collaborative ethnography, we describe how mathematical literacy was mobilized by an activist collective that intervened against violence toward migrant women. Our research considers a long period of development to examine how the activism impacted bodily politics, community, and relevant policies. Findings: Our findings illustrate how the collective of activists led by a migrant woman of color countered the official data that did not reveal marginalized voices. Critical synthesis of embodiment and emplacement allowed us to examine how the mobilization of mathematical literacy became consequential (Jurow et al., 2016) in two interrelated aspects: 1) embodiment, the process through which the historically hidden bodies of migrant women came to be visible and assembled and 2) emplacement, the transformation of a place toward gathering disparate bodies. Contribution: Our work contributes to expanding the geo-political terrain of scholarship in the learning sciences by bringing forth the history of activism led by Filipina migrants in Japan, which in turn shines a light on traditionally masked epistemology key to mobilizing mathematical literacy for solidarity.
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This chapter explores the global connections to theorising gender. The chapter argues that the global north clearly maintains hegemony in the production of gender and feminist theory in the world. The theories produced in the global south are generally oriented to theories and methods developed in the global north. There is a rich but unacknowledged archive of accounts and analyses of gender from around the global south. A survey of gender scholarship in the global south shows important foundation for decolonial thinking about gender theory. We contend that gender needs to be understood in a historical context of the majority world including colonization, colonial violence, role of the postcolonial state, land acquisition, global hunger and post-independence globalization. Feminism in the north as well feminism around the global south stands to gain from the vision of a wider world. Gender scholarship, therefore, needs to move to a world-centered, solidarity-based approach to knowledge.
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The relationship between ideology and learning remains insufficiently theorized and sparsely investigated in the Learning Sciences. Drawing on Stuart Hall’s theorization of ideology, Judith Butler’s notion of the (un)grievability of lives, and Sara Ahmed’s construct of stickiness, we illustrate how insights from critical social theory are indispensible to understanding processes of learning and how perspectives from the learning sciences can enrich critical social theory. Through the analysis of a classroom discussion on the use of militarized drones in an undergraduate engineering ethics course, we show how ideological convergence among participants constructed locally-significant categories of “civilian,” “terrorist,” and (un)grievability, which narrowed the possible trajectories for students’ disciplinary learning in engineering and engineering ethics. Our analysis also shows that fleeting moments of ideological expansion offered opportunities for new learning; however, most of these instances of possibility were not sustained through the classroom discussion. We explicate how ideological convergences and expansions, as interactional achievements, profoundly matter for disciplinary learning and students’ identities. In conclusion, we explore the implications of our findings for broader contexts of learning and for the field of the Learning Sciences.
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This study examined immigrant parents’ involvement in early years mathematics learning, focusing on learning of multiplication in in- and out-of-school settings. Ethnographic interviews and workshops were conducted in an urban city in Japan, to examine out-of-school practices of immigrant families. Drawing from sociocultural theory of learning and the concept of appropriation (Wertsch, 1998), the role of power and identity was examined in relation to children’s appropriation of an informal multiplication method that was taught by their parents. An intergenerational analysis, between immigrant parents and their children, revealed heterogeneous perspectives towards appropriation. Immigrant parents in this study framed their involvement in their children’s early years mathematics learning in relation to their positional identities and the pressures to conform to the mainstream practices of their host country. During their early years of schooling, students in this study were already aware of academic tracking in the school and were aware of what was believed to be legitimate in school mathematics learning. The significance of diversifying mathematics curriculum and pedagogy was discussed to affirm the knowledge and identities of immigrant students and families.
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In this article, the author discusses the intersectionality of mathematics experiences for two Latin@ college women pursuing mathematics-intensive STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) majors at a large, predominantly White university. The author employs intersectionality and poststructural theories to explore and make meaning of their experiences in relation to discourses of mathematics ability and pursuits of STEM higher education. A cross-case analysis of two Latin@ college women’s counter-stories details the development of success-oriented beliefs and strategies in navigating the discourses that they encountered institutionally and interpersonally in their mathematics experiences. Implications are raised for P–16 mathematics and STEM education to broaden equitable learning opportunities for Latin@ women and other marginalized groups’ construction of positive mathematics identities at intersections of gender and other social identities.
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Questions regarding what is consequential for communities are critical for the study and design of learning. Answering these questions requires knowledge of how the social world functions to make certain ideas, practices, and identities visible and potentially valuable. In our longitudinal, participatory design research project, we work with a group of resident-activists seeking social justice for their historically marginalized community. Our aim was to develop new tools (e.g., a software application) and understandings that could make learning consequential. Without making the differential scales of influence and values of participants' work visible, possibilities for consequential learning—learning that extends across multiple positions and perspectives in practices such as community organizing—would be limited.
In this article, Nicole Joseph, Meseret Hailu, and Jamaal Matthews argue that Black girls' oppression in the United States is largely related to the dehumanization of their personhood, which extends to various institutions, including secondary schools and, especially, mathematics classrooms. They contend that one way to engage in educational equity and social-justice-focused education is to teach Black girls in the classroom in a way that is humanizing. With this idea in mind, they explore relationships between Black girls' humanity and mathematics teaching and learning. Using interviews with ten Black adolescent girls representing varying levels of engagement in mathematics and enrolled in middle and high school math courses, the authors argue that inclusive pedagogies can be used to humanize this marginalized student group.
In this chapter, I use figure hiding as a metaphor representing the processes of exclusion and suppression that critical mathematics education (CME) seeks to address. Figure hiding renders identities and modes of thought in mathematics education and mathematics education research invisible. CME has a commitment to addressing figure hiding by making visible what has been obscured and bringing to the center what has been marginalized. While the tentacles of CME research address different analytical domains, much of this work can be connected to the social isms that plague our world (e.g., sexism, racism, heterosexism, colonialism, capitalism, ableism, militarism, nationalism, religious sectarianism). However, the trend in CME research is to address these isms in silos, which does not reflect the compounded forms of oppression that many experience. I review CME studies that employ intersectionality as a way of analyzing the complexities of oppression. Intersectionality’s limited use in CME research has been for identity-based analyses. I offer intersectional analysis as a strategy to extend intersectionality’s power beyond identity toward more systemic analyses.
In this chapter, the authors examine the trajectory of the literature on race, culture, and identity in education research through the past century. The literature is first situated within its historical and conceptual foundations, specifically the dehumanizing legacy of scientific racism, the early efforts by African American scholars to rehumanize marginalized members of society, and the emergence of identity as a construct in the social sciences. The authors then explore the body of education research—from the mid 20th century to today—focused on the relationship between cultural and racial identities and students’ experiences with schooling. They close with a vision for the next era of research on this critical topic.