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As Chicanos and Chicanas protested social, political, and economic inequalities, Chicanos(as) on university and college campuses demanded the introduction of courses and eventually programs that examined the Mexican American experience. By the late 1960s, the first programs in Chicano studies appeared on a variety of campuses. Faculty, who only a semester before might have been student activists, faced the task of constructing a curriculum and the more thorny undertaking of developing the procedures of an academic program. In the process, they sought to flesh out a Chicano pedagogy and specify the content for these courses. Unfortunately, most Chicano(a) faculty were unclear about their understanding of the intellectual meaning of Chicano studies . Some accepted the rhetoric of white radicals and African Americans about the need of a relevant education. Yet Chicano(a) activists did not offer any explanation of what this relevant education might be—aside from the general endeavor to uncover the historical, social, economic, political, and psychological experiences of the Mexican American. At the same time, for many participants in nascent Chicano studies programs , a central concern was the establishment of cultural programs that highlighted an often mythical past and present. The establishment of Chicano studies was made more difficult by the desire to couple academic programs with the political struggle over control of academic institutions that, the Chicano(a) faculty hoped, would advance the transformation of the Mexican American community. In this chapter, I explore Mexican American writings within the academy (1967–1970), tracing the genesis of Chicano studies as an academic program. These writings were in opposition to an American academic epistemological constellation that denied Mexican American ontological and epistemological autonomy. Hidden among these Chicano(a) writings and their equivocation with the typical American 1 The Genesis of Academic Chicano Studies, 1967-1970 Utopia and the Emergence of Chicano Studies The Genesis of Academic Chicano Studies 13 university were a myriad of Chicano epistemological gazes that held the totalizing U.S. academic epistemological field in tension. To understand these developing intellectual alternatives, I assert the importance of campus political behavior without suggesting a one-to-one relationship between el movimiento or campus protests and Chicano studies. Political action in the Mexican American community created a utopian spirit that provided a space for the construction of Chicano studies and a questioning of traditional U.S. academic practices and American exceptionalism. In these temporary decolonized spaces, Chicanos(as) accomplished two goals. The first was to start to explain the Mexican American condition. Chicanos(as) began to reexamine materials on Mexican Americans, disseminate information on this community, and research and ascertain new materials to replace deficient or nonexistent data. In the process, Chicanos(as) challenged the assumptions concerning the Mexican American. The second aim was to utilize this new information to transform their communities. This proposed transformation ran the gamut from individual self-discovery through cultural rebirth to radical political change. To achieve both goals, Chicanos(as) had to deal with university institutional procedures and the American academic epistemological field. Chicano(a) academics equivocated before this abyss. Some Chicanos(as) proposed a radical mutation of academic practices ; others projected the creation of a Chicano space in the U.S. university system without any fundamental change of intellectual practices. This distinction could only be read after the fact, however. Even those concerned with overturning the academic framework appeared to accept Chicano studies as part of higher education. For their academic survival , Chicano(a) academics had to present cogent arguments using a particular methodology that fit academic definitions of knowledge. In looking over this early Chicano literature, I discern at least two trends in negotiating this intellectual revolution. From one direction came the work of the Quinto Sol collective, in particular the essays of the anthropologist Octavio Romano in El Grito: A Journal of Contemporary Mexican-American Thought. From a different direction, Chicano(a) activists presented another manner of engaging in Chicano studies. This perspective found its initial expression in El Plan de Santa Bárbara and was further developed in Aztlán: Chicano Journal of the Social Sciences and the Arts. This chapter traces the roots of these distinct visions of Chicano studies.1 14 Chicano Studies Utopia and the California Chicano(a) Student Movements Most Chicano(a) scholars have argued that Chicano studies was the product of the 1960s and 1970s Chicano and Chicana student movements.2 Despite the fact that not every campus in California had Chicano(a) student protests, all benefited from Chicano(a) student activism...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780816599530
Related ISBN
9780816512751
MARC Record
OCLC
844052292
Pages
288
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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