Robert Sanchez is an assistant professor of philosophy who specializes in Mexican and Latin American philosophy. He was hired by Mount Saint Mary's in Fall 2015. Since that time, he has established MSMU as one of a few universities in the United States that focuses on Mexican philosophy.
You are considered one of the leaders of Mexican philosophy in the U.S. today. Is that true?
I’m not sure if that’s true, but I have dedicated myself to making it widely available. When I was in graduate school, there was no such thing as Mexican philosophy in the US, and there were few resources to teach oneself. So, after earning my Ph.D. in 2012, I committed myself to making Mexican and Latin American philosophy a viable area of research. In 2017, I published the first anthology on Mexican philosophy with Oxford University Press, and this fall I will be publishing an introduction to Latin American and Latinx Philosophy with Routledge. I also co-organize a biannual, binational conference on Mexican philosophy, which we held at the Mount last fall with great success.
How does Mexican philosophy differ from what we traditionally know as philosophy?
Traditionally, philosophy is concerned with truths that transcend cultural difference. While Mexican philosophy is concerned with the problems of philosophy—knowledge, truth, God, the good, justice, beauty, and so on—there was a movement of philosophy in Mexico (1910-1960) that aimed to represent and affirm its own cultural identity. This period was part of a larger cultural renaissance after the Mexican Revolution that gave birth to most of what we identify as iconically Mexican today (muralism, cuisine, tequila, the ballet folklorico, etc.) and it dared to philosophize about the peculiarities of the Mexican experience and for the sake of Mexicans.
How did you become so passionate about Mexican philosophy?
Intellectually, Mexican philosophy offers an important challenge to the Western canon. But my interest is also personal. It has helped me articulate my own dissatisfaction with the old narratives that now seem ossified or outdated to me. And it has helped me to re-connect with my own cultural background that, as a Mexican-American, we are encouraged to leave behind.
Why do you love teaching at the Mount?
For two reasons. First, I understand the challenges my students face first-hand. So I’m grateful that I’m able to share my own experience with them in a meaningful way. Second, I value the opportunity to challenge them to think differently about their education and future. In particular, I encourage my students to value their education for its own sake, not just for its potential financial reward.