DISSERTATION PROPOSAL ANNOUNCEMENT Ph.D. in Education Program: Chloe Bellows “The Intersections of Education and Organizing: Transnational Civic Literacies at a Community-Based Immigrant and Workers’ Rights Organization”

9:30 am - 11:00 am

This study will explore the civic literacy practices of transnational Latinx youth and adults that are generated at the intersections of education and organizing in a New Jersey community organization dedicated to immigrant and worker rights. Drawing on scholarship that centers the agency and civic action of immigrant communities (often excluded from formal civic participation) (de los Rios & Molina, 2020; Rusoja, 2022; Villenas, 2019) and the humanizing tenets of researchers partnering with immigrant communities (Campano et al., 2016), I foreground an expansive view of what it means to be a “citizen” (Abu El-Haj, 2009; Ong, 1996), pushing against the dominant frames of citizenship as bound to the nation-state, and situate immigrants in a transnational framework that recognizes the experiences of individuals who live, move, and maintain relationships across borders (Dyrness & Sepúlveda, 2021). I consider “civic” to reflect the lived, co-constructed, and fluid practices of our collective lives (Mirra & Garcia, 2022) and center a critical literacy stance that sees literacy as multimodal (New London Group, 1996) and liberatory, never separated from a questioning of injustice and the goal of shifting power imbalances (Freire, 1970).

Building on my pilot study and informed by my own transnational experiences in education and organizing, this ten-month critical ethnography study will involve participant observation, interviews, and focus groups with intergenerational members across diverse spaces of a community organization (youth organizing groups, ESOL classes, worker committees, immigrant welcome centers, and marches). I seek to understand the horizontal and intergenerational education and civic action taking place in the uniquely generative spaces of community organizing, outside of traditional K-12 settings, and how critical civic literacy practices not only engage but transform civic life. I aim to contribute to education and immigration research that is interested in resisting deficit messages about undocumentedness, immigration, and transnational communities, to rather highlight how transnational knowledges and practices are expanding spaces for civic participation and agitating for justice.

To access the Zoom link required to attend this proposal, please contact academic.services@gse.rutgers.edu.