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Detective Fiction and the Search for Chicana/o Identity
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.
Chicano/a Representations of Gender, Sexuality, and Ethnicity
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.
A Transnational History of Irrigated Cotton along the Mexico-Texas Border
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.
Popular Latina Fiction and Americanization in the Twenty-First Century
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.
Politics of a New Millennial Mestizaje
Narratives of a Movement from Latino Chicago
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.
The Genesis of a Discipline
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.
Essays on Chicana/Latina Literature and Criticism
Although there have been substantial contributions to Chicana literature and criticism over the past few decades, Chicanas are still underrepresented and underappreciated in the mainstream literary world and virtually nonexistent in the canon. Writers like Sandra Cisneros, Ana Castillo, and Gloria Anzaldúa have managed to find larger audiences and critical respect, but there are legions of Chicana writers and artists who have been marginalized and ignored despite their talent. Even in Chicano anthologies, the focus has tended to be more on male writers. Chicanas have often found themselves without a real home in the academic world. Tey Diana Rebolledo has been writing about Chicana/Latina identity, literature, discrimination, and feminism for more than two decades. In this collection of essays, she brings together both old and new works to give a state-of-the-moment look at the still largely unanswered questions raised by vigilant women of color throughout the last half of the twentieth century. An intimate introductory essay about Rebolledo's personal experiences as the daughter of a Mexican mother and a Peruvian father serves to lay the groundwork for the rest of the volume. The essays delve into the historical development of Chicana writing and its early narratives, the representation of Chicanas as seen on book covers, Chicana feminism, being a Chicana critic in the academy, Chicana art history, and Chicana creativity. Rebolledo encourages “guerrillera” warfare against academia in order to open up the literary canon to Chicana/Latina writers who deserve validation.
Museums, Monuments, and the Creation of National Identity
Collecting Mexico centers on the ways in which aesthetics and commercialism intersected in officially sanctioned public collections and displays in late nineteenth-century Mexico. Shelley E. Garrigan approaches questions of origin, citizenry, membership, and difference by reconstructing the lineage of institutionally collected objects around which a modern Mexican identity was negotiated. In doing so, she arrives at a deeper understanding of the ways in which displayed objects become linked with nationalistic meaning and why they exert such persuasive force.
Spanning the Porfiriato period from 1867 to 1910, Collecting Mexico illuminates the creation and institutionalization of a Mexican cultural inheritance. Employing a wide range of examples—including the erection of public monuments, the culture of fine arts, and the representation of Mexico at the Paris World’s Fair of 1889—Garrigan pursues two strands of thought that weave together in surprising ways: national heritage as a transcendental value and patrimony as potential commercial interest.
Collecting Mexico shows that the patterns of institutional collecting reveal how Mexican public collections engendered social meaning. Using extensive archival materials, Garrigan’s close readings of the processes of collection building offer a new vantage point for viewing larger issues of identity, social position, and cultural/capital exchange.