LatinX Stories

Consul de Macondo

LatinX Stories of Migration collects personal stories from Latinx faculty, staff and students who demonstrate excellence and leadership at UW, in order to highlight their value and contribution to UW community and to American society as a whole. I use participatory photography and photo elicitation as a method to document personal stories related to the migration experiences and identity of the Latinx community at UW.  I have learned that participatory photography is a powerful tool that combines words and images to elicit lived experiences and personal stories in a way that emphasizes a deep dimension of humanity, enables building bridges of empathy, understanding and solidarity, and communicates these values with the compelling power of images and words.

I highlight the contribution of successful Latinos and Latinas at UW, embodied by excellence among faculty, staff and students. These stories of Latinx success at UW serve as inspiration and example to other Latinx students, staff and faculty, to the UW community as a whole, highlighting the diversity and contribution of Latinos and Latinas to UW. This will help strengthen and cultivate an inclusive campus climate, attract and retain a diverse and excellent student body, staff, and faculty at UW.

A few years ago my kids, then in Spanish immersion middle school, were asked what were the occupations of Latinos in the US. I told them we were university professors, supreme court justices, senators... they were uncomfortable with my answers because they sensed what the right answer the teacher was looking for was gardeners, cleaners, dishwashers, farm workers... My bilingual book with photos and stories of undocumented migrants (Fotohistorias, www.fotohistorias.org) is being used to teach ESL in schools in Washington State: “It has real life stories and experiences the students can relate to, in both English and Spanish,” I am told. I’m glad it is being used, but I wish it also had the stories of supreme court justices, senators, and university professors. When I participated as one of the 18 honorees at the Latinx Faculty Recognition at UW in May 2017 I realized that the stories of success that my fellow honorees and I represent needs to be collected and told, and that my work with participatory photography would be an excellent way to do it.  That is why I'm doing his project. The final result will be a publication that highlights the rich and diverse trajectories of the Latinx community at UW, and their contributions to the UW community and to American society. 

Excellent UW Latinx faculty will be selected using the same criteria as the UW LatinX Recognition Award (promotion to associate professor or professor, publication of an article in a high impact journal, publication of a book, securing a major grant or retiring during or near the end of the academic year). Likewise, excellent UW Latinx staff will be selected using similar criteria (staff: recent promotion or award, leadership in outreach or service, graduation; students: graduation, recognition or award, publication or presentation of research, leadership in outreach or service). All eligible participants are invited to participate in an interview, and to bring to it a photo or object that reminds them of their place of origin (or that of their ancestors), their journey of migration (or that of their ancestors), and their current life and contribution to UW. I ask to make copies or take pictures of the objects or photos they share, and I make portraits of each participant. By anchoring the interviews on these objects or photos, participants will be able to explore subtle yet powerful personal narratives in relation to their sense of identity and belonging as Latinos or Latinas, and their contribution to UW in their current role as faculty, staff or students. 

The transcribed and translated interviews (interviews are in either English or in Spanish) will then be organized and grouped by themes, associated with the respective images, resulting in a diverse, composite, kaleidoscopic portrait of the UW Latinx lived experiences and success. Creative graphic design will help to highlight the main themes and threads of the diverse narratives, resulting in a compelling visual and personal story narrative that illustrates the contribution of Latinos and Latinas to UW community. This visual story narrative will be created as a book for publication, and as a collection of posters for a photo exhibition to be held at UW Libraries or other suitable venue.