Chicana Feminisms: A Critical Reader
Gabriela F. Arredondo, Aida Hurtado, Norma Klahn, Olga Nájera-Ramírez, and Patricia Zavella, eds. Duke University Press, 2003 Library of Congress HQ1421.C492 2003 | Dewey Decimal 305.420973
Chicana Feminisms presents new essays on Chicana feminist thought by scholars, creative writers, and artists. This volume moves the field of Chicana feminist theory forward by examining feminist creative expression, the politics of representation, and the realities of Chicana life. Drawing on anthropology, folklore, history, literature, and psychology, the distinguished contributors combine scholarly analysis, personal observations, interviews, letters, visual art, and poetry. The collection is structured as a series of dynamic dialogues: each of the main pieces is followed by an essay responding to or elaborating on its claims. The broad range of perspectives included here highlights the diversity of Chicana experience, particularly the ways it is made more complex by differences in class, age, sexual orientation, language, and region. Together the essayists enact the contentious, passionate conversations that define Chicana feminisms.
The contributors contemplate a number of facets of Chicana experience: life on the Mexico-U.S. border, bilingualism, the problems posed by a culture of repressive sexuality, the ranchera song, and domesticana artistic production. They also look at Chicana feminism in the 1960s and 1970s, the history of Chicanas in the larger Chicano movement, autobiographical writing, and the interplay between gender and ethnicity in the movie Lone Star. Some of the essays are expansive; others—such as Norma Cantú’s discussion of the writing of her fictionalized memoir Canícula—are intimate. All are committed to the transformative powers of critical inquiry and feminist theory.
Contributors. Norma Alarcón, Gabriela F. Arredondo, Ruth Behar, Maylei Blackwell, Norma E. Cantú, Sergio de la Mora, Ann duCille, Michelle Fine, Rosa Linda Fregoso, Rebecca M. Gámez, Jennifer González, Ellie Hernández, Aída Hurtado, Claire Joysmith, Norma Klahn, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Olga Nájera-Ramírez, Anna Nieto Gomez, Renato Rosaldo, Elba Rosario Sánchez, Marcia Stephenson, Jose Manuel Valenzuela, Patricia Zavella
Mexican Chicago builds on previous studies of Mexicans in the United States while challenging static definitions of “American” and underlying assumptions of assimilation. Gabriela F. Arredondo contends that because of the revolutionary context from which they came, Mexicans in Chicago between 1916 and 1939 were not just another ethnic group working to be assimilated into a city that has a long history of incorporating newcomers. Suggesting a new understanding of identity formation, she argues that Mexicans wielded tools of identification forged in revolutionary Mexico to collectively battle the prejudices of ethnic groups that included Poles, Italians, and the Irish, as well as African Americans. By turning inward, however, Mexicans also highlighted tremendous differences among themselves, such as gender and class. In discussing this distinctive process of becoming “Mexican” in Chicago during the early twentieth century, Arredondo not only explores how that identity was constructed but also provides telling insight into the repercussions of that identity formation process.