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Kim Diaz

 
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Curriculum Vitae

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Kim Diaz
Lecturer, Chicano Studies

I have been concerned with understanding both the social relationships as well as the individual self that holds these relationships. By studying theories of the nature of the self and its identity, I came to study ethics and social political philosophy. More specifically, I have drawn from my bicultural and bilingual experience (Latin American/North American) in order to identify the tensions present in both cultures and to identify resources from one that are not present but would be helpful to the other. In the process of exploring these questions I have written an undergraduate honors thesis on the alienation of personal identity "Identity and Consumerism," an M.A. philosophy thesis on North American and Mexican identity "John Dewey, Samuel Ramos and the Individual," an M.A. thesis for Hispanic Studies on the progression of political movements in Latin America "Democracy in Latin America: From ideology to pragmatism in the thought of Jos‚ Carlos Mari tegui, Paulo Freire and Luis Villoro." I have also published three articles on Mexican and Central American immigration into the U.S. The first article "Mexican Immigration Scenarios based on the South African Experience of ending Apartheid" is a proposal on how to solve the immigration crisis that the U.S. is experiencing by following the example of South Africa as they dismantled apartheid. The second article "U.S. border wall: A Poggean Analysis of Illegal Immigration" is an analysis of the role the U.S. has in the Mexican and Central American immigration into the U.S. The third article is a chapter in the book Pragmatism in the Americas titled "Dewey and Freire's Pedagogy of Recognition: A critique of subtractive schooling." This chapter is concerned with the assimilation to Anglo culture that bicultural children undergo in the U.S. school systems while repressing their native culture. I have also researched and published ten encyclopedia articles on both North American and Latin American philosophy and history.

My dissertation project explores democracy as a way of life (radical democracy) by drawing from both North and Latin American philosophers. I work with ideas from the Brazilian pedagogue Paulo Freire and the Mexican indigenist Luis Villoro to develop (a) a criticism of mainstream liberal assumptions regarding freedom, tolerance and the nature of the relationship between the individual and the community as well as (b) a criticism of liberal democracy as a political system, and (c) a formulation of democracy as a way of life. This is relevant because the experiences in Freire's and Villoro's historical background (colonialism, feudalism, dictatorships) have been neglected from the Western liberal approach which emphasizes property rights, individual rights and community obligations towards the individual.

Although the Western liberal tradition runs deep within our democratic institutions, liberalism and democracy are not synonymous, nor does one concept necessarily entail the other. Proponents of radical democracy criticize mainstream liberal theories for equating democracy with legal guarantees, or with the procedure of periodic voting, as well as for the belief that it is through private property that individual liberty is achieved.

Radical democracy is informed by liberal democracy but is also critical of it. Radical democracy is described as the democratic quality that our experiences in the here and now may exhibit. Proponents of radical democracy contend that it is through our relationships and within the immediate experience we have of each other that our ideals have the capacity to become actualized experiences. The criticisms made against radical democracy are that it is too na‹ve, trusting, and complacent. I work with Freire's analysis of the "internalized oppressor" and Villoro's analysis of the intentions that lead us to become close to others to (a) help us understand the depth and complexity of experiencing democracy through our everyday interactions and relationships, and (b) to develop the argument that radical democracy is neither naive regarding the human potential nor complacent regarding the tensions and ambiguity inherent in our everyday experiences and relationships.

My contributions to the field of philosophy have been due to my ability to relate fully to both the North and Latin American cultures and languages. Being able to draw from these experiences has allowed me access inside as well as outside both cultures, their cultural habits and assumptions, as well as their shortcomings regarding our personal well-being and the well-being of our local and international relationships. My research has also been historically significant given that I have worked on bridging the gaps between Western and Latin American philosophy, which has been largely neglected by the mainstream Anglophone philosophical community. This is empirically relevant given that through my research on the Mexican and Central American immigration issue, I have provided arguments and suggestions that play on the strengths and interests of both North and Central American people. The same holds true when my research is less international and more local in scope. For instance, when discussing the nature of the self and personal relationships I draw from both traditions in order to add texture to our understanding of personal freedom and a sense of community.

Current and future research

Since earning my Ph.D., I have worked on a few projects. The first project is a co-authored article with Ed Murguia on the philosophical bases (Stoicism, Buddhism, Taoism and Existentialism) of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy. Our manuscript is currently under review. The second project is an article on the Peruvian Indigenist Jos‚ Carlos Mari tegui's revolutionary myth. This article has just been published (fall 2013) in The American Philosophical Association, APA Newsletter on Hispanic/Latino Issues in Philosophy. The third project is an article on Paulo Freire's understanding of trust. I presented this paper at the 2014 Pacific division of The American Philosophical Association in San Diego, CA, and also at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. May 16, 2014.

I have also been invited to contribute an introduction to Luis Villoro's Political Philosophy as a book chapter on for a book on 20th Century Mexican Philosophy. This is an honor for me, and I'm currently developing a draft of this book chapter. I am also writing two book manuscripts, one is on Paulo Freire's Political Philosophy and the second is on Luis Villoro's Political Philosophy. Additionally, Ed Murguia, my sociologist co-author, and I continue to research the immigration of Central Americans into the U.S. We are currently working on a manuscript that revisits some of our previous ideas and makes further suggestions in light of the recent developments regarding immigration since our first article in 2008.

KEYWORDS

  1. Classical American Pragmatism
  2. Latin American Philosophy
  3. Sociopolitical Philosophy

UTEP STRATEGIC AREAS

  1. Education for the 21st Century Demographic
  2. Global Enterprise & Border Studies
  3. Health & Biomedical Sciences and Engineering
  4. National Defense & Border Security
  5. Cross-cutting: U.S. –Mexico and Latin America: Social and Behavioral Issues