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Area and Ethnic Studies > American Studies > Hispanic American Studies

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Broken Souths

Latina/o Poetic Responses to Neoliberalism and Globalization

Michael Dowdy

Broken Souths offers the first in-depth study of the diverse field of contemporary Latina/o poetry. Its innovative angle of approach puts Latina/o and Latin American poets into sustained conversation in original and rewarding ways. In addition, author Michael Dowdy presents ecocritical readings that foreground the environmental dimensions of current Latina/o poetics.
 
Dowdy argues that a transnational Latina/o imaginary has emerged in response to neoliberalism—the free-market philosophy that underpins what many in the northern hemisphere refer to as “globalization.” His work examines how poets represent the places that have been “broken” by globalization’s political, economic, and environmental upheavals. Broken Souths locates the roots of the new imaginary in 1968, when the Mexican student movement crested and the Chicano and Nuyorican movements emerged in the United States. It theorizes that Latina/o poetics negotiates tensions between the late 1960s’ oppositional, collective identities and the present day’s radical individualisms and discourses of assimilation, including the “post-colonial,” “post-national,” and “post-revolutionary.” Dowdy is particularly interested in how Latina/o poetics reframes debates in cultural studies and critical geography on the relation between place, space, and nature.
 
Broken Souths features discussions of Latina/o writers such as Victor Hernández Cruz, Martín Espada, Juan Felipe Herrera, Guillermo Verdecchia, Marcos McPeek Villatoro, Maurice Kilwein Guevara, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Jack Agüeros, Marjorie Agosín, Valerie Martínez, and Ariel Dorfman, alongside discussions of influential Latin American writers, including Roberto Bolaño, Ernesto Cardenal, David Huerta, José Emilio Pacheco, and Raúl Zurita.

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Brown Gumshoes

Detective Fiction and the Search for Chicana/o Identity

By Ralph E. Rodriguez

Popular fiction, with its capacity for diversion, can mask important cultural observations within a framework that is often overlooked in the academic world. Works thought to be merely “escapist” can often be more seriously mined for revelations regarding the worlds they portray, especially those of the disenfranchised. As detective fiction has slowly earned critical respect, more authors from minority groups have chosen it as their medium. Chicana/o authors, previously reluctant to write in an underestimated genre that might further marginalize them, have only entered the world of detective fiction in the past two decades. In this book, the first comprehensive study of Chicano/a detective fiction, Ralph E. Rodriguez examines the recent contributions to the genre by writers such as Rudolfo Anaya, Lucha Corpi, Rolando Hinojosa, Michael Nava, and Manuel Ramos. Their works reveal the struggles of Chicanas/os with feminism, homosexuality, familia, masculinity, mysticism, the nationalist subject, and U.S.-Mexico border relations. He maintains that their novels register crucial new discourses of identity, politics, and cultural citizenship that cannot be understood apart from the historical instability following the demise of the nationalist politics of the Chicana/o movement of the 1960s and 1970s. In contrast to that time, when Chicanas/os sought a unified Chicano identity in order to effect social change, the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s have seen a disengagement from these nationalist politics and a new trend toward a heterogeneous sense of self. The detective novel and its traditional focus on questions of knowledge and identity turned out to be the perfect medium in which to examine this new self.

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Brown on Brown

Chicano/a Representations of Gender, Sexuality, and Ethnicity

By Frederick Luis Aldama

Common conceptions permeating U.S. ethnic queer theory tend to confuse aesthetics with real-world acts and politics. Often Chicano/a representations of gay and lesbian experiences in literature and film are analyzed simply as propaganda. The cognitive, emotional, and narrational ingredients (that is, the subject matter and the formal traits) of those representations are frequently reduced to a priori agendas that emphasize a politics of difference. In this book, Frederick Luis Aldama follows an entirely different approach. He investigates the ways in which race and gay/lesbian sexuality intersect and operate in Chicano/a literature and film while taking into full account their imaginative nature and therefore the specific kind of work invested in them. Also, Aldama frames his analyses within today's larger (globalized) context of postcolonial literary and filmic canons that seek to normalize heterosexual identity and experience. Throughout the book, Aldama applies his innovative approach to throw new light on the work of authors Arturo Islas, Richard Rodriguez, John Rechy, Ana Castillo, and Sheila Ortiz Taylor, as well as that of film director Edward James Olmos. In doing so, Aldama aims to integrate and deepen Chicano literary and filmic studies within a comparative perspective. Aldama's unusual juxtapositions of narrative materials and cultural personae, and his premise that literature and film produce fictional examples of a social and historical reality concerned with ethnic and sexual issues largely unresolved, make this book relevant to a wide range of readers.

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Building a Latino Civil Rights Movement

Puerto Ricans, African Americans, and the Pursuit of Racial Justice in New York City

Sonia Song-Ha Lee

In the first book-length history of Puerto Rican civil rights in New York City, Sonia Lee traces the rise and fall of an uneasy coalition between Puerto Rican and African American activists from the 1950s through the 1970s. Previous work has tended to see blacks and Latinos as either naturally unified as "people of color" or irreconcilably at odds as two competing minorities. Lee demonstrates instead that Puerto Ricans and African Americans in New York City shaped the complex and shifting meanings of "Puerto Rican-ness" and "blackness" through political activism. African American and Puerto Rican New Yorkers came to see themselves as minorities joined in the civil rights struggle, the War on Poverty, and the Black Power movement--until white backlash and internal class divisions helped break the coalition, remaking "Hispanicity" as an ethnic identity that was mutually exclusive from "blackness."

Drawing on extensive archival research and oral history interviews, Lee vividly portrays this crucial chapter in postwar New York, revealing the permeability of boundaries between African American and Puerto Rican communities.

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Building the Borderlands

A Transnational History of Irrigated Cotton along the Mexico-Texas Border

By Casey Walsh

Cotton, crucial to the economy of the American South, has also played a vital role in the making of the Mexican north. The Lower Río Bravo (Rio Grande) Valley irrigation zone on the border with Texas in northern Tamaulipas, Mexico, was the centerpiece of the Cárdenas government’s effort to make cotton the basis of the national economy. This irrigation district, built and settled by Mexican Americans repatriated from Texas, was a central feature of Mexico’s effort to control and use the waters of the international river for irrigated agriculture. Drawing on previously unexplored archival sources, Casey Walsh discusses the relations among various groups comprising the “social field” of cotton production in the borderlands. By describing the complex relationships among these groups, Walsh contributes to a clearer understanding of capitalism and the state, of transnational economic forces, of agricultural and water issues in the U.S.-Mexican borderlands, and of the environmental impacts of economic development. Building the Borderlands crosses a number of disciplinary, thematic, and regional frontiers, integrating perspectives and literature from the United States and Mexico, from anthropology and history, and from political, economic, and cultural studies. Walsh’s important transnational study will enjoy a wide audience among scholars of Latin American and Western U.S. history, the borderlands, and environmental and agricultural history, as well as anthropologists and others interested in the environment and water rights.

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Butterfly Boy

Memories of a Chicano Mariposa

Rigoberto Gonzalez

Winner of the American Book Award

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Chica Lit

Popular Latina Fiction and Americanization in the Twenty-First Century

by Tace Hedrick

In Chica Lit: Popular Latina Fiction and Americanization in the Twenty-First Century, Tace Hedrick illuminates how discourses of Americanization, ethnicity, gender, class, and commodification shape the genre of “chica lit,” popular fiction written by Latina authors with Latina characters. She argues that chica lit is produced and marketed in the same ways as contemporary romance and chick lit fiction, and aimed at an audience of twenty- to thirty-something upwardly mobile Latina readers. Its stories about young women’s ethnic class mobility and gendered romantic success tend to celebrate twenty-first century neoliberal narratives about Americanization, hard work, and individual success. However, Hedrick emphasizes, its focus on Latina characters necessarily inflects this celebratory mode: the elusiveness of meaning in its use of the very term “Latina” empties out the differences among and between Latina/o and Chicano/a groups in the United States. Of necessity, chica lit also struggles with questions about the actual social and economic “place” of Latinas and Chicanas in this same neoliberal landscape; these questions unsettle its reliance on the tried-and-true formulas of chick lit and romance writing. Looking at chica lit’s market-driven representations of difference, poverty, and Americanization, Hedrick shows how this writing functions within the larger arena of struggles over popular representation of Latinas and Chicanas.

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The Chican@ Hip Hop Nation

Politics of a New Millennial Mestizaje

The population of Mexican-origin peoples in the United States is a diverse one, as reflected by age, class, gender, sexuality, and religion. Far from antiquated concepts of mestizaje, recent scholarship has shown that Mexican@/Chican@ culture is a mixture of indigenous, African, and Spanish and other European peoples and cultures. No one reflects this rich blend of cultures better than Chican@ rappers, whose lyrics and iconography can help to deepen our understanding of what it means to be Chican@ or Mexican@ today. While some identify as Mexican mestizos, others identify as indigenous people or base their identities on their class and racial/ethnic makeup. No less significant is the intimate level of contact between Chican@s and black Americans. Via a firm theoretical foundation and a collection of vibrant essays, Pancho McFarland explores the language and ethos of Chican@/Mexican@ hip hop and sheds new light on three distinct identities reflected in the music: indigenous/Mexica, Mexican nationalist/immigrant, and street hopper. With particular attention to the intersection of black and Chicano cultures, the author places exciting recent developments in music forms within the context of progressive social change, social justice, identity, and a new transnational, polycultural America.

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Chicanas of 18th Street

Narratives of a Movement from Latino Chicago

Leonard G, Ramirez

Overflowing with powerful testimonies of six female community activists who have lived and worked in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, Chicanas of 18th Street reveals the convictions and approaches of those organizing for social reform. In chronicling a pivotal moment in the history of community activism in Chicago, the women discuss how education, immigration, religion, identity, and acculturation affected the Chicano movement. Chicanas of 18th Street underscores the hierarchies of race, gender, and class while stressing the interplay of individual and collective values in the development of community reform._x000B__x000B_Highlighting the women's motivations, initiatives, and experiences in politics during the 1960s and 1970s, these rich personal accounts reveal the complexity of the Chicano movement, conflicts within the movement, and the importance of teatro and cultural expressions to the movement. Also detailed are vital interactions between members of the Chicano movement with leftist and nationalist community members and the influence of other activist groups such as African Americans and Marxists.

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Chicano Studies

The Genesis of a Discipline

Michael Soldatenko

Chicano Studies is a comparatively new academic discipline. Unlike well-established fields of study that long ago codified their canons and curricula, the departments of Chicano Studies that exist today on U.S. college and university campuses are less than four decades old. In this edifying and frequently eye-opening book, a career member of the discipline examines its foundations and early years. Based on an extraordinary range of sources and cognizant of infighting and the importance of personalities, Chicano Studies is the first history of the discipline.

What are the assumptions, models, theories, and practices of the academic discipline now known as Chicano Studies? Like most scholars working in the field, Michael Soldatenko didn't know the answers to these questions even though he had been teaching for many years. Intensely curious, he set out to find the answers, and this book is the result of his labors. Here readers will discover how the discipline came into existence in the late 1960s and how it matured during the next fifteen years-from an often confrontational protest of dissatisfied Chicana/o college students into a univocal scholarly voice (or so it appears to outsiders).

Part intellectual history, part social criticism, and part personal meditation, Chicano Studies attempts to make sense of the collision (and occasional wreckage) of politics, culture, scholarship, ideology, and philosophy that created a new academic discipline. Along the way, it identifies a remarkable cast of scholars and administrators who added considerable zest to the drama.

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