Professors call for deeper social maps


A panel of professors specializing in language and education called for a deeper understanding of diverse backgrounds. 

Professors Karla O’Donald, Katherine Fogelberg and Freyca Calderon presented “Cartographies of the Self” at the Race, Ethnicity and Place Conference VII on Thursday at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Fort Worth.

“We must change the way we map people, so that we don’t stereotype and put people in closed boxes anymore,” said O’Donald, a TCU Spanish instructor. 

Katherine Fogelberg, who teaches at UNT Health Science Center, said,”’Cartographies of the self’ means how we map the characteristics and experiences that define us both internally and to others.”

Fogelberg said our current perceptions of people “focus too much on labeling external traits.”

“They do not take into account the complexities of personal experiences and a global perspective,” Fogelberg said. 

TCU Education professor Freyca Calderon said she was once insulted when an African American woman went up to her and asked if Calderon could speak English. She then asked if Calderon could fix a computer problem she had based on the way she looked. 

”We as people need to see ourselves as people with many diverse backgrounds and experiences,and we must stop judging and basing people off a central or dominate culture,” O’Donald said. “What will heal the wounds of people who have gone through discrimination is interconnectivity.”

Fogelberg said our perceptions today show that interconnectivity and our intersections with different cultures are “constantly changing.”

“We reach interconnectivity by developing a third space in a culture where people can speak the same language with people who have gone through the same hardships in the same locations,” Calderon said.

O’Donald said people need to keep broadening and deepening their social maps so they can resist the categories that are given to them from the day they are born.

“Broadening our social maps break down barriers and allows us to see people for who they really are and not what has been proscribed to them,” Fogelberg said.

“In the end, we are all people and we have more similarities than differences,” O’Donald said.

For further conference coverage, visit the links below.

Race, Ethnicity and Place Conference VII