Immigrant Students as Cosmopolitan Intellectuals

Authored by: Gerald Campano , María Paula Ghiso

Handbook of Research on Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Print publication date:  October  2010
Online publication date:  April  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415965057
eBook ISBN: 9780203843543
Adobe ISBN: 9781136913570


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As they describe young immigrants in U.S. cities and classrooms, Gerald Campano and María Ghiso recognize their students’ capacity to savor new words and meanings and their commitment to learn—and record—the stories of sacrifice, dignity, and resilience passed along through families and communities. For Campano and Ghiso, these multilingual, transnational, multivoiced stories form the core of a cosmopolitan approach to teaching reading and literature. Through their analysis of Shaun Tan’s The Arrival and a child’s 20-page narrative of her family’s literacies and activism, a new vision of reading unfolds that places young, emerging voices and their literary legacies at the center of educational reform.

Genius has no country. It blossoms everywhere. Genius is like the light, the air. It is the heritage of all.

—José Rizal (1884)
Taking as an inspiration the Filipino writer and activist José Rizal, this chapter argues that we should regard immigrant students—and all students—as cosmopolitan intellectuals. José Rizal’s transnational intellectual odyssey inspires how we might think about the role of literature and the literary imagination in diverse 21st century classrooms. In our work with immigrant, migrant, and refugee populations, we have learned that students’ literacy practices and knowledge are not merely relevant for their respective communities, but also have value for the world we share. We understand this capacity to make claims of universal significance as part of what it means to be a cosmopolitan intellectual.

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