Omi Salas-SantaCruz

Learning to Be: A Critical Phenomenology of Institutional Transphobia as Recounted by Trans Latinx Students Navigating College Life

This dissertation is a case study on the “cultural ideological system of oppression” (Leonardo & Broderick, 2011) that makes trans violence possible in institutions of higher education, and how trans Latinx students imagine a new university amid this violence. Embedded in what Lather (2014) describes as “post-qualitative research grounded in the immanence of doing,” I ask, what do trans Latinx students’ embodied knowledge of college life tell us about how transphobia functions on the college campus? That is, I uncover the embodied (Cruz, 2001) and affective dimensions of knowledge through students’ accounts of learning self-discipline and governance (Foucault,1970; Critchley, 2010) that is necessary to be a college student of a given university. Using critical phenomenology as a method that situates individual consciousness in material, historical, and social contexts (Guenther, 2018), I draw from students’ accounts of tacit knowledge (Polanyi, 1960) as a window into “the organization of academic culture” (Dill, 2012). I then use this knowledge as an indication of the implicit values, beliefs, and ideologies of the institution. In this manner, I rely on theories on the management of academic culture (Clark,1983; Becher, 1989; Dill, 2012) and the process of acquiring embodied knowledge within organizations (Strati, 1999), to make intelligible the organizational cultural processes that instrumentalize trans violence (Salamon, 2018), and how students negotiate the complex and multilayered processes of accommodation and resistance rooted in this violence.