Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-20-2018


Andean college students in Cusco, Peru, struggle to overcome discrimination against bilingualism during their pursuit of higher education. To examine this situation and possibilities for change, I employed a participatory method, photovoice (Wang & Burris, 1994) within a community-based participatory research framework, to facilitate Quechua-Spanish bilingual college students’ exploration of Quechuan practices in their university. Participatory research methodology promoted critical dialogues to challenge ideologies that have obstructed the revitalization, maintenance, development of the Quechua language in higher education. Although university policies in Cusco formally promote inclusion of indigenous knowledge and practices, bilingual Spanish-Quechua practices on campus have remained largely symbolic.

Andean research partners and I collaborated for over six months using the photovoice methodology. Drawing from decolonial and poststructuralist perspectives on language ideologies, I employed the concepts of chi’xi (decolonial gesture) presented by Rivera Cusicanqui (2017) and the analytics of decoloniality (Maldonado-Torres, 2016) to analyze how bilingual Quechua-Spanish ideologies and practices are learned, unlearned, rejected, and enacted.

Photovoice participants contributed to community critical awareness of Quechua-Spanish bilingual ideologies in Cusco when presenting their visual metaphors during photo exhibitions. They continually face supay (coloniality forces) when enacting their Quechuan practices rooted in collective memories and knowledges, decolonial forces that call for social justice for Quechua peoples. Participants shared personal experiences as bilingual students facing barriers to maintaining their Quechua language, and then shared their proposals for encouraging their university create a fertile terrain for bilingualism, rooting out ideologies of deficits towards Quechua, and promoting T’ikarinanpaq, blossoming of Quechuan practices in college.

Through outreach photovoice sessions, participating students connected with urban and rural mountain Quechuan communities where they and I learned to appreciate decolonial cultural humility in dialogues. The participatory method encouraged greater decision-making power for the students and non-student community members: they reconfigured the photovoice process, by enacting their saberes-haceres, experiential knowledges retained in collective memories of Quechuan communities.

Already active in denouncing coloniality, participants adopted and adapted participatory photovoice methodology to expand recruitment of more bilingual students, locally and nationally, to their efforts to valorize Quechua in Peruvian universities, communities, and government.


Quechua, Andean Studies, Spanish Bilingualism, Community-Based Participatory Research with Photovoice, Hispanic Sociolinguistcs, Decolonial Gestures

Document Type




Degree Name

Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Carlos LopezLeiva

Second Committee Member

Dr. Ruth Trinidad-Galvan

Third Committee Member

Dr. Gregory Cajete

Fourth Committee Member

Dr. Rosa Vallejos