University of Texas Press

Chicana Matters

Deena J. González and Antonia Castañeda series editors

Published by: University of Texas Press

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Chicana Matters

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Postnationalism in Chicana/o Literature and Culture

By Ellie D. Hernández

In recent decades, Chicana/o literary and cultural productions have dramatically shifted from a nationalist movement that emphasized unity to one that openly celebrates diverse experiences. Charting this transformation, Postnationalism in Chicana/o Literature and Culture looks to the late 1970s, during a resurgence of global culture, as a crucial turning point whose reverberations in twenty-first-century late capitalism have been profound. Arguing for a postnationalism that documents the radical politics and aesthetic processes of the past while embracing contemporary cultural and sociopolitical expressions among Chicana/o peoples, Hernández links the multiple forces at play in these interactions. Reconfiguring text-based analysis, she looks at the comparative development of movements within women’s rights and LGBTQI activist circles. Incorporating economic influences, this unique trajectory leads to a new conception of border studies as well, rethinking the effects of a restructured masculinity as a symbol of national cultural transformation. Ultimately positing that globalization has enhanced the emergence of new Chicana/o identities, Hernández cultivates important new understandings of borderlands identities and postnationalism itself.

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Private Women, Public Lives

Gender and the Missions of the Californias

By Bárbara O. Reyes

Through the lives and works of three women in colonial California, Bárbara O. Reyes examines frontier mission social spaces and their relationship to the creation of gendered colonial relations in the Californias. She explores the function of missions and missionaries in establishing hierarchies of power and in defining gendered spaces and roles, and looks at the ways that women challenged, and attempted to modify, the construction of those hierarchies, roles, and spaces. Reyes studies the criminal inquiry and depositions of Barbara Gandiaga, an Indian woman charged with conspiracy to murder two priests at her mission; the divorce petition of Eulalia Callis, the first lady of colonial California who petitioned for divorce from her adulterous governor-husband; and the testimonio of Eulalia Pérez, the head housekeeper at Mission San Gabriel who acquired a position of significant authority and responsibility but whose work has not been properly recognized. These three women’s voices seem to reach across time and place, calling for additional, more complex analysis and questions: Could women have agency in the colonial Californias? Did the social structures or colonial processes in place in the frontier setting of New Spain confine or limit them in particular gendered ways? And, were gender dynamics in colonial California explicitly rigid as a result of the imperatives of the goals of colonization?

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Shakin' Up Race and Gender

Intercultural Connections in Puerto Rican, African American, and Chicano Narratives and Culture (1965–1995)

By Marta E. Sánchez

The second phase of the civil rights movement (1965-1973) was a pivotal period in the development of ethnic groups in the United States. In the years since then, new generations have asked new questions to cast light on this watershed era. No longer is it productive to consider only the differences between ethnic groups; we must also study them in relation to one another and to U.S. mainstream society. In “Shakin' Up” Race and Gender, Marta E. Sánchez creates an intercultural frame to study the historical and cultural connections among Puerto Ricans, African Americans, and Chicanos/as since the 1960s. Her frame opens up the black/white binary that dominated the 1960s and 1970s. It reveals the hidden yet real ties that connected ethnics of color and “white” ethnics in a shared intercultural history. By using key literary works published during this time, Sánchez reassesses and refutes the unflattering portrayals of ethnics by three leading intellectuals (Octavio Paz, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and Oscar Lewis) who wrote about Chicanos, African Americans, and Puerto Ricans. She links their implicit misogyny to the trope of La Malinche from Chicano culture and shows how specific characteristics of this trope—enslavement, alleged betrayal, and cultural negotiation—are also present in African American and Puerto Rican cultures. Sánchez employs the trope to restore the agency denied to these groups. Intercultural contact—encounters between peoples of distinct ethnic groups—is the theme of this book.

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Teatro Chicana

A Collective Memoir and Selected Plays

Edited by Laura E. Garcia, Sandra M. Gutierrez, and Felicitas Nuñez

A firsthand history of a Chicana women's political theatre group that operated in the 1970s and 1980s in San Diego.

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This Land Was Mexican Once

Histories of Resistance from Northern California

By Linda Heidenreich

The territory of Napa County, California, contains more than grapevines. The deepest roots belong to Wappo-speaking peoples, a group whose history has since been buried by the stories of Spanish colonizers, Californios (today’s Latinos), African Americans, Chinese immigrants, and Euro Americans. Napa’s history clearly is one of co-existence; yet, its schoolbooks tell a linear story that climaxes with the arrival of Euro Americans. In “This Land was Mexican Once,” Linda Heidenreich excavates Napa’s subaltern voices and histories to tell a complex, textured local history with important implications for the larger American West, as well. Heidenreich is part of a new generation of scholars who are challenging not only the old, Euro-American depiction of California, but also the linear method of historical storytelling—a method that inevitably favors the last man writing. She first maps the overlapping histories that comprise Napa’s past, then examines how the current version came to dominate—or even erase—earlier events. So while history, in Heidenreich’s words, may be “the stuff of nation-building,” it can also be “the stuff of resistance.” Chapters are interspersed with “source breaks”—raw primary sources that speak for themselves and interrupt the linear, Euro-American telling of Napa’s history. Such an inclusive approach inherently acknowledges the connections Napa’s peoples have to the rest of the region, for the linear history that marginalizes minorities is not unique to Napa. Latinos, for instance, have populated the American West for centuries, and are still shaping its future. In the end, “This Land was Mexican Once” is more than the story of Napa, it is a multidimensional model for reflecting a multicultural past.

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Toward a Latina Feminism of the Americas

Repression and Resistance in Chicana and Mexicana Literature

By Anna Marie Sandoval

Weaving strands of Chicana and Mexicana subjectivities, Toward a Latina Feminism of the Americas explores political and theoretical agendas, particularly those that undermine the patriarchy, across a diverse range of Latina authors. Within this range, calls for a coalition are clear, but questions surrounding the process of these revolutionary dialogues provide important lines of inquiry. Examining the works of authors such as Sandra Cisneros, Laura Esquivel, Carmen Boullosa, and Helena María Viramontes, Anna Sandoval considers resistance to traditional cultural symbols and contemporary efforts to counteract negative representations of womanhood in literature and society. Offering a new perspective on the oppositional nature of Latina writers, Sandoval emphasizes the ways in which national literatures have privileged male authors, whose viewpoint is generally distinct from that of women—a point of departure rarely acknowledged in postcolonial theory. Applying her observations to the disciplinary, historical, and spatial facets of literary production, Sandoval interrogates the boundaries of the Latina experience. Building on the dialogues begun with such works as Sonia Saldivar-Hull’s Feminism on the Border and Ellen McCracken’s New Latina Narrative, this is a concise yet ambitious comparative approach to the historical and cultural connections (as well as disparities) found in Chicana and Mexicana literature.

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Wild Tongues

Transnational Mexican Popular Culture

By Rita E. Urquijo-Ruiz

An innovative application of four social types—the downtrodden Peladita/Peladito and the zoot-suited Pachuca/Pachuco—that illuminates working-class subjects in a broad spectrum of Mexican and Mexican American cultural production.

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With Her Machete in Her Hand

Reading Chicana Lesbians

By Catrióna Rueda Esquibel

With the 1981 publication of the groundbreaking anthology This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa ushered in an era of Chicana lesbian writing. But while these two writers have achieved iconic status, observers of the Chicana/o experience have been slow to perceive the existence of a whole community—lesbian and straight, male as well as female—who write about the Chicana lesbian experience. To create a first full map of that community, this book explores a wide range of plays, novels, and short stories by Chicana/o authors that depict lesbian characters or lesbian desire. Catrióna Rueda Esquibel starts from the premise that Chicana/o communities, theories, and feminisms cannot be fully understood without taking account of the perspectives and experiences of Chicana lesbians. To open up these perspectives, she engages in close readings of works centered around the following themes: La Llorona, the Aztec Princess, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, girlhood friendships, rural communities and history, and Chicana activism. Her investigation broadens the community of Chicana lesbian writers well beyond Moraga and Anzaldúa, while it also demonstrates that the histories of Chicana lesbians have had to be written in works of fiction because these women have been marginalized and excluded in canonical writings on Chicano life and experience.

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The Wounded Heart

Writing on Cherríe Moraga

By Yvonne Yarbro-Bejarano

Analyzing the "in-between" spaces in Moraga’s writing where race, gender, class, and sexuality intermingle, this first book-length study of Moraga’s work focuses on her writing of the body and related material practices of sex, desire, and pleasure.

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