- Glocal Matters:A Response to José E. Limón
I want to thank José E. Limón for not only sharing his work with me but also providing a valuable critical context in which to situate my recent thinking, teaching, and scholarship on Latino/a studies in general and Latino/a literature in particular. One of the most valuable aspects of Limón's article, motivated by Cheryl Temple Herr's Critical Regionalism and Cultural Studies: From Ireland to the American Midwest (1996), is the insistence upon "an abiding and fulsome respect for and rendering of the complexity of local cultures in comparison to others in the world while recognizing that all are in constant but critical interaction with the global." I want to argue that a Latino/a studies scholarship that reifies a boundary between transnational or global analytic frameworks and localized dynamic cultural processes runs the risk of overlooking or discounting the means by which the global is often reassessed from the purview of the local. The strength of a critical regionalist perspective is that it takes the transnational and global seriously, yet refuses the propensity to bypass local historical and cultural phenomena.
Take, for example, the region of the US Midwest. If we pay attention to the trajectory of Latino/a studies as well as the Latino/a literary history emerging from it, what we see are not mutually exclusive Chicano/a and Puerto Rican cultural histories that can only be merged under a university-orchestrated, financially manageable "field," which might alternatively be mobilized, with attachments to Latin America, under the banner of an "against the grain" critical globalization. Instead, we can map a complex social history that grasps "the glocal"—that is, the intertwined function of the global and the local—whose key coordinates are provided by a critical regionalist practice. Indeed, the historical antecedents [End Page 183] of a uniquely Latino/a Midwest literary landscape (often unknown or forgotten) are exemplary of such a practice.
Consider then Revista Chicano-Riqueña, whose first issue was published in the spring of 1973. The journal was the brain-child of Luis Dávila and Nicolás Kanellos, who were at that time faculty at Indiana University (Kanellos at the Northwest Campus in Gary and Dávila at Bloomington). Based in the Midwest until its relocation to Houston in late 1979, Revista Chicano-Riqueña published prose, poetry, literary criticism, interviews, reviews, and art. The journal served as a seminal critical vehicle for the creative writers, artists, and critics who helped define the historical parameters of Chicano, Puerto Rican, and Latino literature and cultural studies. While the journal could be read as simply linking the emergent expressive cultures of Chicanos in the Southwest and Puerto Ricans on the east coast, its title signals for me something deeper—the complex community formations particular to the Midwest region of the US.
In other words, conjoining Chicanos and Puerto Ricans in the context of this journal should be seen as more than an exercise in comparing the migrational experiences of the two distinct populations or identifying similarities in colonial/neocolonial histories. Rather, it reflects the coexistence of these two groups in a common public sphere. Thus, a critical regionalist perspective allows for assessing the cross-fertilization of Mexican-American and Puerto Rican histories and shared lives in Midwest towns and cities like Chicago, broaching a politics of both collaboration and conflict connected by—to name but a few examples—queer kinship formations, intermarriage, shared labor practices, and resistance to state violence. While the Winter 1977 issue edited by Puerto Rican poet David Hernández, famously titled the "Nosotros Anthology," would focus exclusively on Chicago Latino cultural production, Revista Chicano-Riqueña would also take the position of "critical regionalism" seriously as evidenced by the journal's occasional special issues spotlighting specific locations from Wisconsin to Texas, Houston to New York City.
The embrace of critical regionalism evidenced in Revista Chicano-Riqueña would lead to its renaming as The Americas Review in 1986. In the spring issue of that year—the first to reflect the name change—the editorial information reveals that Kanellos is now identified...