Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Beyond Theoretical Sensitivity: The Benefits of Cultural Intuition within Qualitative Research and Freirean Generative Themes-Four Unique Perspectives

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Beyond Theoretical Sensitivity: The Benefits of Cultural Intuition within Qualitative Research and Freirean Generative Themes-Four Unique Perspectives

Article excerpt

Necesitamos teorias [We need theories] that will rewrite history using race, class, gender, and ethnicity as categories of analysis, theories that cross borders, that blur boundaries--new kinds of theories with new theorizing methods.

(Gloria Anzaldua, Making Face, Making Soul/Haciendo Cara, 1990, p. xxv)

Gloria Anzaldua exemplifies our need, as Chicana scholars, to go beyond traditional education research theories and methods to document ourselves and communities as "knowledge holders and creators". In this article, we, the four authors, highlight four qualitative research projects to demonstrate how we employ "theorizing methods" to "rewrite history using race, class, gender, and ethnicity as categories of analysis" (Anzaldua, 1990, p. xxv). At the center of our "theorizing methods" is cultural intuition (Delgado Bernal, 1998)--a theoretical sensitivity that extends personal memory into the collective and community experience and empowers participants throughout the research process that includes engaging them in the data analysis. Cultural intuition informs our "theorizing methods" in four individual case studies with Communities of Color that includes Latinos/as who have been historically marginalized in the United States, or "who are subordinated because of their race, gender, and class" (Solorzano & Villalpando, 1998, p. 301). Thus, the purpose is to better understand those who are at the margins of society through a critical race feminist lens. In each of these studies, we employ our cultural intuition in order to involve our participants in describing their lived experiences through a Freirean-informed methodology of generative themes (see Freire, 2000).

The first case study outlines personal experiences as the leading tenet of cultural intuition, to examine how family insights to a segregated "Mexican school" contributed to the use of family photographs to uncover segregation in a city in California. The following case study delineates academic experiences as the focal point to highlight the dearth of higher education literature that fails to employ innovative techniques to better document the first-year experiences of underrepresented students generally and Chicanas specifically in top-tier research institutions. The next case study acknowledges professional insights of a former classroom teacher, which contributes to the use of classroom and personal objects to document the stories of Chicana teachers. The final case study focuses on the analytic process of archival sources that contributes to the historical recovery of Chicana/os in South Central Los Angeles schools.

Our research paints a more vivid and complex picture of the dimensions of the challenges families, students, teachers and Communities of Color face in the United States, thereby enriching existing scholarship on this issue. Qualitative research--an interpretive, naturalistic approach to inquiry--allows us to capture in-depth understandings of people's experiences, perspectives, and histories in the context of their personal circumstances or settings (Erickson, 2011). Taking into account the complex and socially-constructed nature of reality, our research projects acknowledge the benefits of having a variety of critical frameworks and innovative interpretative practices in one's theoretical and methodological toolbox to better report everyday life from the point of view of those who live it. For the purposes of this article, we examine how we, as Chicana scholars, explicitly link the development of our cultural intuition and our research decisions through a central question: how do we use and cultivate our own cultural intuition in our studies?

We come from a strong lineage of critical race Chicana feminist scholars who have named and continually developed cultural intuition as an epistemological framework in educational research (Calderon et al., 2012; Delgado Bernal, 1998). Our focus makes our work personal, valid, and methodologically sound and cultivates a highly intimate "sixth sense" regarding our scholarship. …

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