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  • Chicana Movidas: New Narratives of Activism and Feminism in the Movement Era by Dionne Espinoza, María Eugenia Cotera, and Maylei Blackwell
  • Bonnie Cox (bio)
Dionne Espinoza, María Eugenia Cotera, and Maylei Blackwell, Chicana Movidas: New Narratives of Activism and Feminism in the Movement Era. University of Texas Press, 2018. Pp. 488.

Chicana Movidas is a ceremonial discovery of powerful women who, through varied and diverse acts of mobilization, excavated spaces for Chicanas to thrive before, during, and after the Chicano movement era. This collection of first-person accounts, critical investigations, and interviews paints a vivid, detailed, and deeply personal picture of how these Chicana activists fostered spaces to express their complex identities, fight for their unique concerns, and make social change. Curated by Dionne Espinoza, María Eugenia Cotera, and Maylei Blackwell, this anthology builds a web of critical Chicana figures who gave a voice to gender and sexuality issues that the Chicano and white feminist movements either missed or ignored. The book focuses on movidas as both "maneuvers" that female activists deployed, and their "active" and "engaged" state as they pursued their unique agenda in the Chicano movement. Through an intersectional praxis, Chicana Movidas unveils both subtle and grandiose acts that set Chicana feminism in motion, including mobilizing large groups at conferences, making political art, helping vecinas get on welfare, and expressing dissent to machismo-oriented husbands.

Chicana Movidas successfully presents a revisionist history of the Chicano movement that pushes the work of Chicana activists "from the margins to the center" [End Page 209] (3). The book is organized into four sections: "Hallway Movidas," "Home-Making Movidas," "Movidas of Crossing," and "Memory Movidas." Each section contains five to six chapters by a diverse array of scholars, and illuminates different modes of Chicana feminist praxis that were pivotal to the movement but not necessarily recognized at the time. "Hallway Movidas" points to the important conversations, personal connections, and written modes of communication that Chicanas engaged in behind the scenes at national conferences and a Catholic Cursillo. It also includes a Maylei Blackwell interview of Gloria Anzaldúa in which she highlights the everyday labors of Anzaldúa and other women she came into contact with that eventually produced the landmark women of color feminist anthology, This Bridge Called My Back. "Home-Making Movidas" explores the most diverse range of themes, as it includes the stories of women who built Chicana feminist spaces through visual art, film, radio, and grassroots mobilization. In this section, Maylei Blackwell presents a thorough and inspiring analysis, "Women Who Make Their Own Worlds: The Life and Work of Ester Hernandez." Through biography, interviews, and artistic interpretation, Blackwell captures the artist's intimate journey in creating worlds that express her Chicana subjectivity and disrupt the fiction of binaries and dichotomies that often conceal locations of belonging to those who reside in gray and fluid spaces. This chapter illustrates the unique function that art can serve in activist movements.

The section "Movidas of Crossing" presents some of the most concrete and practical activist tools in the anthology for building coalitions across different oppressed groups. Alejandra Marchevsky's "Forging a Brown-Black Movement: Chicana and African American Women Organizing for Welfare Rights in Los Angeles" demonstrates how Chicanas and African American women can unify as low-income women of color while also respecting and honoring their cultural differences. It gives a detailed look at the conflicts between the different racial groups and ultimately shows the importance of knowing when to allow the groups to separate to cultivate their collective cultural identities versus when to collaborate across groups to make significant social change. The final section, "Memory Movidas," uses reflective narrative to tap into a collective Chicana memory and chronicle modes of empowerment and resistance. For example, the anthology ends epically with Inés Hernandez-Avila's "Manifesto de Memoria: (Re)Living the Movement without Blinking," in which she uses prose and poetry to reflect on her experience traversing different cultural worlds while deeply investing herself in Chicana activism as a youth, student, and eventually, professor. She affirms the importance of profound self-reflection and heartfelt investigation in attaining a collective Chicana consciousness.

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