Looking for Resistance in all the Right Places: Centering LGBTQ Youth Testimony in Times of Crisis

Prof. Cindy Cruz, UC Santa Cruz

Recalling Renato Rosaldo’s “The observer is neither innocent nor omniscient,” this narrative reflects
on my personal experiences compiling testimonios from a street ethnography with LGBTQ homeless youth. My work as a teacher with LGBTQ youth and my role as queer ethnographer forces a repositioning of method and pedagogy, a process of reflecting on power, space, and resistance in the classroom. Testimonio, as a storytelling genre for the dispossessed, the migrant, and the queer, offers a way of collecting and compiling narrative that makes complicit both the role of a researcher and of the subject. It is an acknowledgement of the constructiveness of personal narrative and life history and of how science, as defined by David Stoll (1999) as “hypothesis, evidence, and generalization,” implicitly positions itself in studies of the “subaltern” as a colonial project. My own attempts at reflexivity position my own testimonies in this research, not as anthropological imperialist or collaborator with power, but as “faithful witness.” It is the recognition that the production of knowledge in anthropology and education is an ideological project and despite the objections of Stoll (1999), the choice of testimonio as a methodology forces a reinvention and a radical repositioning of power for both researcher and subject.