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The Making of Chicana/o Studies

In the Trenches of Academe

Rodolfo F. Acuna

Publication Year: 2011

The Making of Chicana/o Studies traces the philosophy and historical development of the field of Chicana/o studies from precursor movements to the Civil Rights era to today, focusing its lens on the political machinations in higher education that sought to destroy the discipline. As a renowned leader, activist, scholar, and founding member of the movement to establish this curriculum in the California State University system, which serves as a model for the rest of the country, Rodolfo F. Acuña has, for more than forty years, battled the trend in academia to deprive this group of its academic presence. The book assesses the development of Chicana/o studies (an area of studies that has even more value today than at its inception)--myths about its epistemological foundations have remained uncontested. Acuña sets the record straight, challenging those in the academy who would fold the discipline into Latino studies, shadow it under the dubious umbrella of ethnic studies, or eliminate it altogether. Building the largest Chicana/o studies program in the nation was no easy feat, especially in an atmosphere of academic contention. In this remarkable account, Acuña reveals how California State University, Northridge, was instrumental in developing an area of study that offers more than 166 sections per semester, taught by 26 tenured and 45 part-time instructors. He provides vignettes of successful programs across the country and offers contemporary educators and students a game plan--the mechanics for creating a successful Chicana/o studies discipline--and a comprehensive index of current Chicana/o studies programs nationwide. Latinas/os, of which Mexican Americans are nearly seventy percent, comprise a complex sector of society projected to be just shy of thirty percent of the nation's population by 2050. The Making of Chicana/o Studies identifies what went wrong in the history of Chicana/o studies and offers tangible solutions for the future.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Series Information, Copyright

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pp. v

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pp. vii-xii

For over forty years I have been part of the building of Chicana/o Studies. Aside from the fact that Chicana/o Studies did not evolve from a traditional field of study and had no precedent, the major stumbling block has been the ethnocentrism of the institution that looks at the area...

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pp. xiii-xiv

I am indebted to many people, including the Chicana/o students at San Fernando Valley State College who dragged me into the fray. At the age of thirty-five I was a full professor. The students who founded the department include Miguel Verdúgo, Hank López, the late...


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pp. xv-xvi

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pp. xix-xxviii

Why study it if it is not American? This question is often asked by those who expect everyone to speak English. After all, why should anyone want to speak another language? The argument goes like this: English is the universal language of finance and diplomacy...

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Chapter 1: Becoming Chicana/o Studies

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pp. 1-13

Becoming Mexican has been a long process marked by two phenomenons—three hundred years of Spanish colonialism and the creation of a 2,000-mile border—the result of which has been an identity crisis. At the time of the Spanish conquest a population of 25 million indigenous people lived in what...

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Chapter 2: The Sixties and the Bean Count

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pp. 14-35

Los Angeles was a white city in 1960; within a decade it became Mexican once more. The Mexican American student population rose to 22 percent by the end of the decade, doubling from 1960. Similar shifts took place throughout the Southwest, Midwest, and Pacific...

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Chapter 3: From Student Power to Chicano Studies

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pp. 36-58

By the end of the 1960s, 85 percent of Mexican Americans lived in urban spaces, 50 percent lived in California, 34 percent in Texas, and over a million in Los Angeles, making it the second largest Mexican city after Mexico City. The median age was 20.2, suggesting that most Mexican Americans were youth, a population that had...

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Chapter 4: In the Trenches of Academe

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pp. 59-76

What happened at Santa Barbara in April 1969 has become legend, and legends are assumed to be fact.1 Today El Plan de Santa Barbara is one of the most posted documents of the era, and legend is that a small group of faculty members, students, and Brown Berets founded...

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Chapter 5: The Building of Chicano Studies

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pp. 77-101

The years 1969–1973 were critical to the formation of Chicano Studies. Students took advantage of a window of opportunity to form Chicano student organizations that were able to negotiate and disrupt when reason failed. The opportunities closed rapidly at the end of the Vietnam War...

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Chapter 6: Growing a Program

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pp. 102-122

While the number of Chicanas/os has grown, their access to academe has become more problematic. In 1955 the California college and university systems were the envy of the nation. More than half the 86,000 high school students graduating that June took advantage of the close-to-home...

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Chapter 7: The Mainstreaming of Chicano Studies

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pp. 123-142

Fabio Rojas presumed that “a new academic program required hundreds of thousands of dollars for faculty salaries, staff, office space, and equipment. Because an academic program has significant financial needs, university administrators can deliberate for years as they weigh a proposal’s intellectual...

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Chapter 8: Getting It Right

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pp. 143-163

As a rule, more middle-class women attend college than males. This is a trend that began at least by 1870 but slowed down after World War II, when the GI Bill encouraged white males to enter college in large numbers. In 1920 over 60 percent of high school graduates were women...

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Chapter 9: Resisting Mainstreaming

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pp. 164-189

The role of philanthropic foundations such as the Ford Foundation in the development of Chicana/o Studies is a mixed bag. Columbia University Professor Manny Marable notes that the Ford Foundation joined with Harvard in the 1980s to shape Harvard’s African American...

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pp. 191-210

In the March 2010 issue of Hispanic Business, “The Supplier Diversity Squeeze: How the Downturn Affects Minority Contracts” reported that the amount of money spent on minority women-owned contractors shrank in 2009, to $30 million from $45 million the year before...


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pp. 211-272


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pp. 273-298


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pp. 299-317

About the Author

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pp. 319

E-ISBN-13: 9780813550701
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813550015

Page Count: 348
Illustrations: 1
Publication Year: 2011