NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1110594
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1361-3324
Undocumented Intelligence: Laying Low by Achieving High--An "Illegal Alien's" Co-Option of School and Citizenship
Chang, Aurora
Race, Ethnicity and Education, v19 n6 p1164-1176 2016
In this article, I relay the irony of my own path as an "illegal alien" in the US--identifying the tension between being a successful student earning straight As and accolades for good citizenship, while hiding my undocumented legal status. Drawing from the notions of race, smartness and citizenship as social constructions, I use a Chicana feminist epistemology to argue that, from early on, my schooling process taught me, intentionally or not, that academic achievement, as perceived and assessed by my school teachers and administrators, would protect me from unwarranted inquiries about my "illegal" status. But beyond academic achievement, I argue that my undocumented status greatly contributed to my unofficial and "undocumented intelligence," that is, the knowledge, skills and intuition fostered by living as an undocumented person. Negotiating the process of schooling as an underground "good" citizen fostered intangible skills that undergirded my ability and motivation to do well in school and to interact with people in a cautiously savvy way. Critically thinking about my daily behaviors and interactions with authority, the significance of scholarly performance and the transnational conditions that led me to this conundrum, then, was not an option but a necessity for individual and familial survival. This narrative aims to introduce and relocate "undocumented intelligence" from a place of obscurity to a central position in educational research--a site of knowledge construction, development and authorship.
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A