Cultural Studies of Science Education

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 221–237 | Cite as

Jesús and María in the jungle: an essay on possibility and constraint in the third-shift third space



One hundred years ago, Upton Sinclair, in The Jungle, exposed the deplorable working conditions of eastern European immigrants in the meatpacking houses of Chicago. The backdrop of this article is the new Jungle of the 21st century—the hog plants of the rural Midwest. Here I speak to the lives of the Mexican workers they employ, and, more specifically, the science-learning experiences and aspirations of third-shifters, Jesús and María. I use these students’ stories as an opportunity to examine the take-up, in education, of the concept of hybridity, and, more particularly, to interrogate what I have come to regard as the “third space fetish.” My principle argument is that Bhabha’s understanding of liberatory Third Space has been distorted, in education, through teacher-centered and power-neutral multicultural discourse. I call for a more robust approach to hybridity in science education research, guided by the lessons of possibility and constraint contained in Jesús’ and María’s third-shift third space lives.


Hybridity Third space US Mexican students English learners Science education 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Human SciencesIowa State UniversityAmesUSA

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