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JOSE F. ARANDA, JR. Making the Case for New Chicano/a Studies: Recovering Our Alienated Selves I hicano/a studies is, and has been, moving in directions that ' are decidedly at odds from its origins in the Chicano/a Movement. While much of Chicano/a studies' ethical, political, and philosophical base remains the same—attention to the historic consequences ofMexican Americans' minority status within the United States—recent scholarship in history and literature has nevertheless opened the field to questions that challenge its institutional foundations. Today, the field is dominated by the trope and cultural politics made famous by Gloria Anzaldiia's "borderlands." Though many of the ideas discussed in this essay share basic premises with Borderland studies, it will also become clear that I apply and extend the Borderlands concept without reservations about where the research may lead and what political conclusions it may suggest. If Chicano/a studies since the late 1960s has unmasked the questions that kept an historic ethnic community marginal , New Chicano/a Studies advocates revealing the history of this community on its own complicated internal terms, not simply terms which suggest an oppositional relationship to Anglo America. New Chicano/a Studies imagines a dialogue between scholars about how we might historicize and theorize what is difficult to accept about Chicano/a culture and history: namely, that Chicanos/as are the descendants of colonizers as well as the colonized; that historically mestizos experienced a more preferable legal status than Native Americans both in Mexico and the United States; that the nineteenth century is Arizona Quarterly Volume 58, Number 1, Spring 2002 Copyright © 2002 by Arizona Board of Regents ISSN 0004-1 610 128José F. Aranda, Jr. replete with Mexicanos who initially welcomed the Anglo invasion; that Nuevo Mexicanos rode alongside Theodore Roosevelt up San Juan Hill; that "whiteness" matters in Mexican and Chicano/a societies; that patriarchy, sexism, and homophobia are all daily facts of life in Chicano /a communities, past and present; that nafta enjoys considerable political support among Mexicanos/as and Chicanos/as all along the United States-Mexico border; and finally that for many Mexican Americans coming of age since the mid-1980s being identified as Chicano or Chicana has lost its magic. By making the case for New Chicano/a Studies, I do not mean to suggest "new" as of today, now, with me as the primary spokesperson. But rather "new" as of the last ten years and based on the critical work of people like Norma Alarcón, Angie Chabram, Rosa Linda Fregoso, Chela Sandoval, Rosaura Sánchez, José Limón, Ramón Gutiérrez, David Gutiérrez, Antonia Castañeda, Ramón Saldívar, José David Saldívar, Renato Rosaldo, Cari Gutiérrez-Jones, Martha Menchaca, Patricia Zavella, David Montejano, Emma Pérez, Genaro Padilla, Nicolás Kanellos, and many more. Indeed, my argument—to rename ourselves institutionally—takes its intellectual and philosophical lead from the many Chicana feminists who have renovated and continue to renovate the field. The collection of essays entitled Bunding With Our Hands: New Directions in Chicana Studies (1993) is only one of many instances where the leadership of Chicana scholars has translated into a virtual bonanza for the field as a whole.1 This essay fully recognizes the meaning and significance of their efforts to my own. While I am opposed to fetishizing generational differences, ideological splits, or disciplinary divides as a way to make my case, I do want to claim that a historic change has occurred within the material culture of people of Mexican descent in the United States. But, I would hope to avoid the kind of misunderstanding that followed Donald Pease's invocation of New American Studies, or Patricia Limerick's naming of a New Western History. My goal is not to unleash an unhealthy and selfdestructive intensification of the divisions within our field. And yet, every field, mainstream or otherwise, has divisions. Why should Chicano /a studies be any different? The point of this essay is to offer instead a meaningful narration of the divisions that have occurred within Chicano/a studies since the 1970s, divisions that have now come to a ctitical head, and significantly so since the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1558-9595
Print ISSN
0004-1610
Pages
pp. 127-158
Launched on MUSE
2014-04-02
Open Access
No
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