Dr. Carla García-Fernández, ’92, has been appointed Faculty Director of Nuestra Casa, the Center for Latine Deaf Studies. In this role, she will lead Nuestra Casa’s academic and research efforts and other Center programs.

Nuestra Casa was established on August 17, 2023  in response to requests by our Latine students, faculty, and staff over a period of several years.  Norma Morán, as Interim Director and Leticia Arellano, ’94,  as Interim Associate Director, worked together over the past year to launch the Center and begin to develop its agenda and programs.  

Dr. García-Fernández, a proud New Mexican Chicana, came from a big family of seven siblings, and she attended New Mexico School for the Deaf in Santa Fe. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Child Development at Gallaudet University, her master’s degree from the University of Arizona, and her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction: Cultural Studies in Education with a graduate portfolio in Mexican American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. 

Her research interests center around intersectionality, social justice, particularly in education, critical race studies, Deaf-Chicanx and Latinx critical studies, and Ethnic Studies. These interests sprouted from her unique theoretical framework, Deaf Latinx Critical Theory (DeafLatCrit), which consists of four tenets: intersectionality, dominant ideologies, consciousness-raising, and storytelling to promote multiple identities, culture, and language preservation and sustainability. 

Dr. García-Fernández comes to Gallaudet from California State University, Northridge (CSUN), known for having the first Chicano Studies department in the United States. For seven years, she served as an Associate Professor in the Department of Deaf Studies, where she endeavored to reshape the Deaf Studies curriculum through an Ethnic Studies lens. 

At CSUN, Dr. García-Fernández’s commitment to her field extended beyond academia. She facilitated a signing, student-centric space, Manos de CSUN. This unique space brought together multiracial deaf and hearing students born to Indigenous and African descendants from Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Here, they delved into their shared histories, explored their identities, and discovered the resources necessary for high academic achievement. 

Dr. García-Fernández published “Shattering Deaf and hearing dualism through a Deaf–Latinx Epistemology Lens” in the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, “Intersectionality and Autoethnography: DeafBlind, DeafDisabled, Deaf and Hard of Hearing-Latinx Children are the Future” for the Journal Committed to Social Change on Race and Ethnicity, and co-authored “The U.S. Latinx Deaf communities: Situating and Envisioning the Transformative Potential of Translanguaging” for an edited book, Transformative Translanguaging Espacios: Latinx Students and their Teachers Rompiendo Fronteras Sin Miedo.  She is also a member of the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies, National Association of Multicultural Education, and the Critical Race Studies in Education Association.  

When the Center for Latine Deaf Studies was established in August 2023, it was envisioned as a place to support teaching, learning, and research in Latine Deaf Studies and other disciplines that benefit from more comprehensive coverage of the Latine Deaf experience, such as history, literature, psychology, sociology, and religion. Its overarching aim is to document and preserve the history of the Latine Deaf community, as well as Latine Deaf education, culture, and language, paying particular attention to the Latine Deaf experience at Gallaudet University and the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center. The Center has an advisory board that provides guidance on programs and resources. 

The Center’s first research project, in conjunction with Dr. Deborah Schooler (Psychology), Dr. Pilar Piñar (World Languages and Cultures), and Dr. Franklin Torres, ’00 & G-’02 (English), is focused on self-identified Deaf Latine undergraduate students at Gallaudet. This study examines their culture, language, and identity. The second research project will take place during the 2024 NAD conference July 1-6 in Chicago with interviews of Deaf Latine conference attendees and Chicago area residents.

Read more about the center’s research initiatives.

In April 2024, the Center hosted its first faculty guest presenter, Dr. Jamila Guerrero-Cantor, G-’07, a social justice advocate who has done extensive research on Deaf undocumented Mexican immigrants navigating college in California. Nuestra Casa will continue to organize lectures, films, speaker series, and discussion forums, and partner with community and campus organizations to sponsor lectures and workshops that create a better understanding of Latine Deaf people in the wider social, economic, and political spectrum.  

Read more about Dr, Guerrero-Cantor’s presentation.

Academic programs 

The Center has taken the initial step in developing an interdisciplinary Latine Deaf Studies minor, grounded like all of Gallaudet’s programs in the liberal education tradition. With Dr. García-Fernández’s support, the Center will submit a formal proposal to the Council on Undergraduate Education for their review. Both existing and new courses will be part of the minor program. 

Academic support 

Providing robust tutoring support to Latine students at Gallaudet is one of Nuestra Casa’s goals. This past spring, Nuestra Casa provided a study table for Latine students. In addition, the Center has begun collaborating with Multicultural Student Programs and other campus units in identifying, developing, and/or offering a wide range of services for our students.  

Nuestra Casa is temporarily located in Hall Memorial Building E200C. It has an active social media presence on Instagram (@gallaudetnuestracasa).

Nuestra Casa is the second step in creating and developing multicultural Deaf Studies centers over the next several years. The first was the Center for Black Deaf Studies, which was established in 2020.

Read about Dr. Joseph C. Hill, the new faculty director of the Center for Black Deaf Studies. Said Provost Khadijat K. Rashid, ’90, “We look forward to welcoming Dr. García-Fernández on August 16. Please join us in giving her a warm welcome when she arrives on campus.”

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