Working-class girls in Ciudad Juárez grow up in a context marked by violence against women, the devastating effects of drug cartel wars, unresponsive and abusive authorities, and predatory U.S. capitalism: under constantly precarious conditions, these girls are often struggling to shape their lives and realize their aspirations. Juárez native Claudia G. Cervantes-Soon explores the vital role that transformative secondary education can play in promoting self-empowerment and a spirit of resistance to the violence and social injustice these girls encounter.
Bringing together the voices of ten female students at Preparatoria Altavista, an innovative urban high school founded in 1968 on social justice principles, Cervantes-Soon offers a nuanced analysis of how students and their teachers together enact a transformative educational philosophy that promotes learning, self-authorship, and hope. Altavista’s curriculum is guided by the concept of autogestión, a holistic and dialectical approach to individual and collective identity formation rooted in the students’ experiences and a critical understanding of their social realities. Through its sensitive ethnography, this book shows how female students actively construct their own meaning of autogestión by making choices that they consider liberating and empowering.
Juárez Girls Rising provides an alternative narrative to popular and often simplistic, sensationalizing, and stigmatizing discourses about those living in this urban borderland. By merging the story of Preparatoria Altavista with the voices of its students, this singular book provides a window into the possibilities and complexities of coming of age during a dystopic era in which youth hold on to their critical hope and cultivate their wisdom even as the options for the future appear to crumble before their eyes.