Drawing on ethnographic data and interviews with 45 teachers, teacher trainers, and union officials in Oaxaca, Mexico, this article explains that teachers’ beliefs in “Oaxacan exceptionalism”—the idea that the state of Oaxaca is fundamentally different from the rest of Mexico—underpinned teachers’ resistance against professionalization policies embedded in the Alliance for the Quality of Education, a sweeping reform inspired by the Organisation for Economic Co‐operation and Development. Teachers within Oaxaca's union chapter, Section 22, described the reforms as an imposition of policies ill‐suited to the state's linguistic and cultural diversity, its economic disparities, and rural‐urban divides. Resistance also symbolized local efforts to preserve Oaxacans’ dissident teaching traditions and Section 22's professional authority, in the face of modernization efforts by the Mexican government, the national union, and international agencies. The study reveals how teachers can resist global educational policies by defending local traditions and asserting regional autonomy.
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