PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
San Diego, CA
November 23-26, 2019

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Online Program Book

  • Professional Development
Transformative Scholarship and Pedagogy Unit
Theme: Transgressing Borders: Immigration and Transformative Pedagogy in Religious Studies Classrooms
Michael Brandon McCormack, University of Louisville, Presiding
Saturday - 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Convention Center-28B (Upper Level East)

In light of the Annual Meeting’s location in San Diego and the recent changes in immigration policy that serve to limit the entry of immigrants into the United States, this panel will outline transformative pedagogical strategies for teaching about the politics of immigration and Religion. The papers examine models and best practices of community-engaged learning and describe partnerships with faith-based organizations and community groups to support learning on the topic of immigration.

Cassie Trentaz, Warner Pacific College
Crossing Borders and Raising the Stakes: Bridging Higher Education and Community Organizing to Get Real Shit Done in Real Time, a Model

Our students are whole people impacted by real issues in our world today with real stakes in how decisions at local, state, and federal levels shake down. As an educator at a Hispanic Serving Institution I have been experimenting in how to embrace this reality and work to thoughtfully infuse what goes on in the classroom into what is going on at the heart of my students’ lives and vice versa. In this presentation, I will introduce you to one way I do so regarding the tangle that is immigration in the US today. I will outline the contours and impact of a model of pedagogy that bridges higher education with community organizing, assesses the world as we and others experience it, articulates the world we hope it will become, and that gets real shit done in real time with real stakes for ourselves and our communities.

Sara Williams, Emory University
Suzanne Klatt, Miami University
On the Borders: A Multiaxial Approach to Transformative Pedagogy on Immigration

Migration across geopolitical borders not only implicates ethical engagement with borders at the peripheries of the nation, but borders and borderlife also emerge in national interiors. The implication is this: wherever a course on immigration is held, local borderlands are present. In this paper, we will present how this recognition shaped the development of a global/local undergraduate seminar on immigration. The course connected semester-long advocacy projects with local immigrant communities to national and global immigration discourse and policy, including a Spring Break immersive travel workshop to the U.S./Mexico border. We will share the multiaxial pedagogical approach we crafted in the context of this seminar to draw students into recognition of the interconnectedness between personal, intersubjective, local, and national/global borders. This embodied process of recognition transforms how students conceptualize social responsibility and solidarity with the immigrant other and their ethical and political positions on national immigration policy.

Kelly Figueroa-Ray, Saint Olaf College
Even the Cartel Members Pray: Studying Immigration through the Lens of Lived Theology

Competing and contradictory beliefs and interests propel a variety of actors each day as they attempt to cross, guard, and make peace with a line that in turn shapes their lives, relationships, communities, and in too many cases, their deaths. In this paper, I will demonstrate how a pedagogy of lived theology can introduce students to the politics of immigration by framing it first as a human issue, not merely an abstraction. Core to this pedagogy is the intersectional examination of first-hand accounts of border encounters through ethnographic fieldwork, reading memoirs, and watching films. This narrative framework is scaffolded by examination of the US-Mexico border as a racial and political construct and an introduction to relevant theological themes. Learning about immigration through the lens of lived theology challenges students to expand what Nancy Pineda-Madrid terms their “social imaginations,” by recognizing that they, too, are actors shaped by US immigration policy (2011).

Business Meeting:
Laura Stivers, Dominican University of California