“Witch doctors” or professionals? The graduates of Mexico´'s first intercultural university and the struggle for legitimacy





Mexico, intercultural universities, Indigenous students, decoloniality, stigma, labor market


Since 2003, the Mexican government has opened 11 intercultural universities serving a total of 15,000 students, a majority of whom are members of Mexico´s Indigenous minority. While there is a growing body of work analyzing the intercultural model from public policy and theoretical perspectives, few studies focus on the experiences of the students and graduates of these institutions. In this article, I share the findings of one such study of the Intercultural University of Mexico State, the pioneer of the intercultural universities. Through interviews with graduates, students, and deans of three undergraduate intercultural programs, I seek to answer a central question, which is rooted in critical and decolonial theory: To what degree does the intercultural model achieve its stated mission of empowering Indigenous students and to what degree does it contribute to the reproduction of inequality? In general, the findings are mixed. While many students share experiences of discrimination in the workplace, and even being derided as “witch-doctors,” they argue that attending an institution with a critical mass of Indigenous students has empowered them personally and professionally, transformed their cultural identities, and given them a new appreciation for their Indigenous roots.


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Author Biography

Marion Lloyd, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Marion Lloyd is a professor in the Institute for the Study of the University and Education at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México). Her scholarship focuses on access and equity in higher education from critical and decolonial perspectives, as well as comparative education policy in the Americas (particularly Mexico, Brazil, and the United States). Her research is also informed by the 15 years she spent as a foreign correspondent in Latin America, the Caribbean and South Asia for U.S. media outlets, including The Associated Press, Boston Globe and The Chronicle of Higher Education.




How to Cite

Lloyd, M. (2021). “Witch doctors” or professionals? The graduates of Mexico´’s first intercultural university and the struggle for legitimacy. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 29(August - December), 160. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.29.6384



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