SAAP Annual Meeting 2014

Papers Proceedings »

Border Crossing, Democracy, and Deweyan Growth

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For John Dewey, personal growth involves the integration of socially given concepts and values into coherent self-conceptions. Dewey rightly praises democracy as the mode of associated life that best promotes growth, since the pluralism that characterizes democratic culture offers a potential wealth of resources for self-development. However, I argue that his understanding of growth as the progressive unification of differences within the self ignores the democratic potential of holding diversity in tension. In this paper, I draw on Latina feminist theories of plural identity to throw light on social virtues unique to personalities shaped in the borderlands between multiple and conflicting normative and conceptual frameworks. Specifically, I claim that Dewey’s ideal of growth should be reconstructed in the light of María Lugones’s concept of “curdling” and Gloria Anzaldúa’s concept of “mestiza consciousness” in order to better meet the task of building a more democratic community.


Wesley Dempster    
Bowling Green State University
United States


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