- Doing Pedagogy En Conjunto
When the eight of us met at the start of our fellowships with the Louisville Institute, we began to share with one another about the gifts and challenges of being new professors at our respective institutions. With time, our reflection on our experiences of teaching became more pointed, and the stories we named began to provoke common questions. As these teaching moments demonstrated, our experiences of marginalization and of relative privilege, as well as those of our students, inform the pedagogical choices we make in our classrooms and the myriad of ways our students experience the impact of those choices. Whether our point of entry came through struggles for climate justice, racial justice, equitable interfaith relationships, gender justice, right relationship between people with disabilities and people of able body, justice for queer folx, or the right to migrate, the conversations in which we participated at the Louisville Institute enabled us to understand more fully that our first years of teaching in the academy are taking place in a time of crisis.
At the heart of these conversations were two questions: What is the nature of this crisis? And how can we most fully live into our vocations as theological educators in ways that engage this crisis in our respective contexts? We made a decision to explore these questions en conjunto, collaboratively, in dialogue, drawing on the collective wisdom of the group.1 Jaisy Joseph has outlined the contours of the crisis as we understand it, and she has spoken to the centrality of Paulo Freire's work [End Page 183] in our engagement with this crisis in the classroom. Here, I turn our attention to the reasons we engage the writing of Freire and its relevance to feminist inquiry.
Freire's work is no stranger to Second Wave feminist theology. Authors like Ada María Isasi-Díaz, who collaborated with Yolanda Tarango in their development of mujerista theology, and María Pilar Aquino, best known for her work as a Latina feminist theologian, wrote at length about the ways in which his notion of conscientization informs theological construction in their contexts. For Isasi-Díaz, conscientization, this process by which the oppressed become aware of the social structures and actors within those structures that contribute to their marginalization, is key to her understanding of mutuality, which, in turn, informs the praxis of solidarity.2 Speaking to the reality of the limits placed on women's full participation in the Catholic church, Aquino tells of how economically poor women in Latin America are becoming increasingly aware of the ways in which intersecting oppressions affect their daily lives.3 Such conscientization on the part of these women enables them to see how their quotidian struggles against gendered, racialized, and economic injustices are intricately intertwined with the impact these injustices have on members of communities in other contexts, as well. Aquino argues that only after this conscientization takes place can work for justice—in the churches and in the world—truly begin. Invoking the names of these feminist theological forebearers, we respond to their call to conscientization and its accompanying mandate to foster right relationship in doing this work en conjunto. Teaching in institutions that make their home at these intersections between the church and the world, we see our pedagogical commitments as explicitly feminist, contributing to the flourishing of those who identify as women, as well as all who are oppressed. [End Page 184]
Jennifer Owens-Jofré is a Latina Catholic theologian. She serves as assistant professor of Latinx theology and cultures and director of the Latinx Studies Program at Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas. Jennifer studied at Loyola Marymount University and Harvard Divinity School, and she holds a PhD from the Graduate Theological Union. In 2018–19, she served as visiting assistant professor of constructive theology at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, a placement through the Louisville Institute's Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. Currently, she is preparing a book manuscript for publication, the working title of which is "Taking Up Her Mantle: A Guadalupan Theology of Accompaniment." firstname.lastname@example.org
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