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Most Chicanos(as) visualized an academic program that could serve and transform the Mexican American community. University activists, of course, differed in their interpretation of how to serve their communities and who the communities might be. Among some university activists, it could be simply dealing with issues of admissions and retention ; to others, it was a transformation of the political, social, and economic reality of Mexican Americans throughout the Southwest. To most, one way to achieve these goals was the construction of Chicano studies programs. The university therefore would be the place to battle for self-determination and Chicano liberation. The way to achieve these goals was through the building of Chicano programs that would be under Chicano(a) control. Once these institutions were established, Chicanos(as) could turn to curricular concerns.1 Scholars who accepted this view and devoted themselves to institution building followed by curriculum construction, I call “empirics.” Chicano(a) empirics saw the process of organizing and institution building as central to their intellectual work. The establishment of a program, department, center, and so on was at the heart of their vision. They saw program construction as a central step in the struggle for Chicano liberation, in which Chicanos(as) would gain control of academic structures with the goal of servicing the community. In this manner, Chicanos(as) would assert their freedom and express their self-determination. Empirics expressed a variety of political stands. While at the beginning most would have considered themselves nationalists , later many could have labeled themselves as liberal, progressive , or Marxist. From whatever political orientation they started, they believed that political issues were subject to fixed final solutions that always worked.2 Chicano(a) empirics also expressed a particular intellectual per2 Empirics and Chicano Studies The Formation of Empirical Chicano Studies, 1970-1975 Empirics and Chicano Studies 39 spective as they built a curriculum. Empiric scholars conceived of the Mexican American condition as the result of oppressive structures. These structures might arise from colonialism, internal colonialism, class oppression, or the simple failings of the American system. They agreed that once the Chicano(a) figured out the system of oppression, he/she would devise a political plan to challenge and then change this situation. For empirics, this understanding reinforced the need for organization and institution building. The earliest expression of this empiric vision was El Plan de Santa Bárbara. While El Plan furnished a political conception of using the academy in the battle for self-determination, it was weak in providing an intellectual vision. El Plan did not provide an adequate intellectual response to understanding Mexican American oppression. This intellectual vision would be developed in the meetings of El Concilio Nacional de Estudios Chicanos, the essays in Aztlán: Chicano Journal of the Social Sciences and the Arts, and presentations at the National Association for Chicano Studies. As the result of these projects, by 1975 Empirical Chicano Studies would become the only acceptable expression of Chicano studies. El Plan de Santa Bárbara and Discipline Formation Chapter 1 provided a particular reading of the political and intellectual implications of El Plan. I emphasized activists’ construction of academic institutions that would serve as an autonomous space in the university to transform the condition of the Mexican American in the university and society at large. The university was presented as “a vital institutional instrument of change.”3 Chicano power could be achieved through a political application of university resources—channeled through Chicano studies programs.4 El Plan influenced the majority of Chicano studies programs; “[n]early all of the programs today are formulated on the basis set forth in El Plan de Santa Barbara.”5 At the heart of El Plan’s political vision was “chicanismo.” According to the historian Juan Gómez-Quiñones, “‘Chicanismo’ referred to a set of beliefs; in particular, a political practice. The emphasis of ‘Chicanismo’ upon dignity, self-worth, pride, uniqueness, and a feeling of cultural rebirth made it attractive to many Mexicans in a way that cut across class, regional, and generational lines.”6 This ideology served to link activists in their struggle for self-determination and the push for institution building. “The Movement was driven by profound 40 Chicano Studies political and cultural ideas on being Chicano,” wrote the historian Ignacio García. “This activist philosophy came to be known as chicanismo .”7 Yet chicanismo was an amorphous term that lent itself to much ambiguity. For some, chicanismo was a political tool necessary to bring Chicanos(as...


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