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LA RED Week: Leah Christina Neubauer on LatCritTheory: Possibilities for Evaluation and Evaluators

I am Leah Christina Neubauer with DePaul University’s MPH Program. I serve as President of the Chicagoland Evaluation Association (CEA). This post highlights my paper in the LA RED network’s AEA 2014 session (#1439): Visionary Evaluation for Building Sustainable Cultural Responsive Evaluation Practices for Latino/a Communities.

From my paper, Lessons from Little Village, Public Health & LatCrit, I offer three guiding questions:

  1. When conducting evaluation with and within Latino communities, does the setting matter?
  2. Should the evaluator be Latino?
  3. Should the design and methods be Latino-focused?

In response to my queries, I offer LatCrit as a framework for advancing Latino-focused evaluation dialogue and scholarship. I offer key insights and resources below.

Hot Tip: Definition, Aims & Values

What is LatCrit?   LatCrit is a theory which considers issues of concern to Latinas/os such as immigration, language rights, bi-lingual schools, internal colonialism, sanctuary for Latin American refugees, multi-identity, and census categories for “Hispanics”.

Aims: Aligned with critical legal theory roots, initial aims included:

  1. The production of critical and interdisciplinary knowledge
  2. The promotion of substantive social transformation
  3. The expansion and interconnection of anti-subordination struggles, and
  4. The cultivation of community and coalition among outsider scholars.

Values: These aims are couched with a commitment to:

  1. Expansive practical programming
  2. Vast community-building structures
  3. Continual engagement of one’s self-critique, and
  4. Analysis to ensure multidimensionality.

Lessons Learned: Possibilities for Evaluators and Evaluation

  1. Multiple Evaluation Approaches: For evaluators, LatCrit highlights theories and models which evoke use, participation, responsiveness, culture, indigenous peoples, social justice, and transformation.
  1. Resources: In my health work, ample time and money are essential for quality LatCrit-aligned evaluation. Evaluators (or RFP writers!) should allow time for formative or developmental processes. Many of our Latino communities have untold processes, stories, and phenomena that must be told and appropriately captured.
  1. Multidimensionality: To be clear, multidimensionality is valued, understood, and shapes all evaluation processes. In practice, this includes resources to develop a nuanced understanding of key multidimensional issues such as: history, context, community, stakeholders, language, dialect, power structures, etc.
  1. Latino-Focused Evaluator Roles: Are context-sensitive, interpreters, translators, mediators, and storytellers. They are grounded in an international, contextual perspective in evaluation. They are familiar with the community’s geographic and historical background. They bear cultural and linguistic competency. They practice multidisciplinary methodology and embody responsive and power-aware evaluation practice.

Rad Resources:

Clayson, Castañeda, Sanchez, and Brindis’ Unequal power—changing landscapes: Negotiations between evaluation stakeholders in Latino communities.

Mertens, and Wilson’s Program evaluation theory and practice: A comprehensive guide.

Valdes’ Foreword: Under construction. LatCrit consciousness, community, and theory.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse Network Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from LA RED Network members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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