14 October 2014

Scholars of Color Teaching Abroad as Identity Cross-Dresser

The complexity of shifting identity, depending on geographical location (teaching within the U.S. or Loyola211 teaching abroad), means that I am an identity “cross-dresser.” The fluidity of identity allows for different significations of power depending on geographical location; thus allowing me, as an international ethicist, to cross-dress and wear identity based on where my particular classroom is located. In the U.S., even though I occupy a space of power as professor, I remain the Object of the dominant gaze; yet, when my classroom is located abroad, my Latinoness is submerged as my overseas students see me as Euroamerican (and in some cases as white) - along with all the powers and privileges that comes by occupying that particular space. Identity cross-dressing, I would argue, complicates the ability for scholars of color and the students occupying classrooms abroad to effectively participate in production of theological knowledge.

To be an international cross-dresser is to recognize that I transverse between the power and privilege (or lack thereof) that comes with the identity I happen to be wearing due to geographical locations. To some degree, regardless of actual skin pigmentation or ethnic origins, we all become navy blue - the color of the cover of U.S. passports. To be navy blue signifies the global imperial might of the most privileged empire ever known to humanity. To carry this navy blue document is not only to receive the protection of empire, but also to become the global signifier of empire, even if you find yourself marginalized within the confines of empire. Those defined as nonwhite due to the domestic dominant gaze become honorary whites when teaching abroad.