Sexuality Research and Social Policy

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 337-347

First online:

Strategic Authenticity and Voice: New Ways of Seeing and Being Seen as Young Mothers Through Digital Storytelling

  • Aline C. GubriumAffiliated withDepartment of Public Health, University of Massachusetts Amherst Email author 
  • , Elizabeth L. KrauseAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • , Kasey JerniganAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts Amherst

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This paper presents the Ford Foundation-funded Hear Our Stories: Diasporic Youth for Sexual Rights and Justice project, which explores the subjective experience of structural violence and the ways young parenting Latinas embody and respond to these experiences. We prioritize uprooted young parenting Latinas, whose material conditions and cultural worlds have placed them in tenuous positions, both socially constructed and experientially embodied. Existing programs and policies focused on these women fail to use relevant local knowledge and rarely involve them in messaging efforts. This paper offers a practical road map for rendering relevant and modifying notions of voice as a form of knowledge with the potential to disrupt authoritative knowledge. We present the context and method behind the four digital storytelling workshops that served as a venue for transforming assumptions about young parenting women and producing novel understandings of teen pregnancy and parenting. We end by suggesting an intervention for what we call “strategic authenticity” as it plays out in storytelling, meaning making, and voice, and implications for policy concerned with social justice and equity.


Digital storytelling Teen pregnancy and parenting Young mothers Youth sexuality Strategic authenticity Voice