Roadblocks to intercultural mobility: Indigenous students' journeys in Colombian universities





  • José Aldemar Álvarez Valencia Email ORCiD Universidad del Valle, Colombia
  • Manuela Wagner Email ORCiD University of Connecticut, USA


Every year, students from different indigenous communities in Colombia set out on a journey to higher education.  Although previous research has looked into students’ challenges at university, there is still the need to understand indigenous students’ mobility trajectories in terms of how they come to grips with the new material, semiotic, and symbolic realities they face upon leaving their reservations. In this conceptual paper, we provide a discussion of research in mobility, critical intercultural dialogue, and critical pedagogy to answer the question, “How can conceptualizations of mobility and critical interculturality shed light on our understanding of indigenous students’ experiences at public universities?” We combine the concept of mobility with elements from a decolonial, critical intercultural view, and critical intercultural pedagogies. We conclude that mobility trajectories are highly marked by placed-based identities that connect students to their territories. Students contest processes of symbolic deterritorialization and deculturation by engaging in forms of re-contextualization and material and symbolic rearrangements of university sites which allows them to embody and enact their identities. We end the article with principles and strategies proposed in culturally sustaining pedagogies and other critical intercultural pedagogies which have significant potential to facilitate indigenous students’ intercultural mobility on university campuses.

Keywords: Mobility, intercultural dialogue, decolonization, culturally sustaining pedagogy, social justice, indigenous students

Suggested Citation:

Valencia, J. A. Álvarez, & Wagner, M. (2021). Roadblocks to intercultural mobility: Indigenous students’ journeys in Colombian universities. Intercultural Communication Education, 4(1), 6–21.