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Saturday NACCS: Roundtable on Hijas de Cuauhtémoc

[I was tweeting this roundtable on Hijas de Cuauhtémoc but lost wifi so I decided to blog it. These are my notes taken as the discussion was going on and is probably both disjointed and incomplete. Session was recorded for classroom use at CSULB.]

Introduction by Maylei Blackwell. (see tweets)

Discussion by Anna NietoGomez, Sylvia Castillo, Leticia Hernandez, Audrey Silvestre.

ANG: My purpose in being here is because I’m trying to create a more coherent picture of what was going on in the 1970s. We were motivated to start Hijas because Chicana contemporaries were experiencing sexual harassment w/in Chicano movement. Chicanas and Mexicanas were dismissed as irrelevant. Male leadership seeking freedom and civil rights for himself and not for the we that included Chicanas. The sense of being othered by own community.

Fredrick Turner’s book influenced by having section on role of women in the revolution, women called Hijas de Cuauhtémoc. This small piece of Chicana history made us realize that feminism was our history. Used the model of press as a way to raise awareness, to encourage Chicanas to express their ideas through writing and art, to confront issues of discrimination.

First issue not well received. MEChA organized a mock funeral for members of Hijas, funerals were depicted with names of Hijas on it. Hostile environment. Apology when coffins were found 20 years later.

Sought funds through community financial solicitation. Spoke at Norwalk senior citizen community center. Supported by parents / families. They raised $250 so they could publish.

Three events announced through the newspaper: March 1971, state committee on higher education implementation of Chicana studies through curriculum. History about Chicanas written by Chicanas. Announcement of national conference in Houston. University regional conference at CSULB.

Used the newspaper as a tool to mobilize women to attend the conference. 250 women attended. Hijas became national vehicle to communicate.

Publication ceased because life intervened. Students needed to study and work. Hijas never became a statewide or national magazine. In 1973 some Hijas reunited and organized a journal Enquentro Feminil. Art, criticism, education. Main thrust, concern about high dropout rate of Chicanas, double the dropout rate of women. 1974 Chicana feminist, Chicana welfare rights, obtaining resources from the community for course on Chicana.

Models of feminism focusing on Chicana issues.

Notion that writing by Chicanas was valuable. Journal could not continue but was completely sold out. Seen as a treasure by those who have them.

LH: Authoritarian father, submissive mother, everything geared toward making a living. Going to school and getting a job. Was threatened with bodily harm for walking out / blow outs. Stuck between doing what was the right thing in the fight but being torn between family. Didn’t walk out

Recruited out of Clearing House. Living off campus dorm at Long Beach — none of the women graduated. Campus did not take care of them. Treated as nothing, not considered not count. Guys were always coming on to them, seduced by EOP director which lead her into Chicana politics. Met Hijas, always going the menial stuff at meetings. Detested the machismo, wanted them to be on the arm, be in the kitchen, be secretary, be quiet.

But still idealistic, totally committed to movement. Hijas as a way to get women involved to get them to fight for the movement. Called them dirty word, labeled them feminist “no better than white women.”

Retreated faced with attack. Quit everything, quit MEChA, quit school got a job, pushed it all down into a dark place. Look at the world around us. Women are being restricted by their society.

SC: Personal story. Family was attacked by the John Birch society and Klan when they integrated Lakewood. Understood race and being the other, but at the same time, understood that white people would defend as well as attack. Critical formation. Later found out they were in the communist party USA. Women as part of “my people’s” history. My people didn’t always have cover but they always had class, the have nots.

Had politics, had sexuality already when she got to CSULB – already trained as agitator. Disappointed at being sexualized and working mimeograph machine. Organizing and studying Marxism which gave a framework and a way to anchor herself, see as historical. Led international movement.

MEChA disappointing, being treated like the other for being a woman. Fighting and being called a feminist. Silenced by moratorium times — men’s sense that it was a time of male issues. Feminist, social justice, working class, wanted society wide impact. Wanted to take our place in rise of third world movement. Releasing the energies of our people to move into the 21st century. Not about taking over MEChA.

Reproductive rights clinic / information. Self defense course due to Chicanas being assaulted by both Chicano men and men on campus. Not be involved with oppression olympic. SC participated in building an alternative school when she was 19 in Hawaiian Gardens.

This story is about a particular time but writ large in story of struggle of women and struggle of women with men. Here because we’re trying to find our own history.

AS: contemporary organizer of the group Conciencia Femenil both now and in honor of their communities. History re-discovered by students in 2009. Looking for history.

March 2010 Conference on where Chicanas are now. Homophobic and sexist attacks talking about how they should be killed. Filed police report as hate speech to get editor of student newspaper to remove the hate speech comments.

Responded by trying to give context to the conference, statement to Chicano/ Studies, La Raza and women’s studies departments. Calling for an intervention to see the intersection of racism, sexism, heterosexism. More backlash but they were ready to respond with petition and social media to hold institutions accountable. Because attacks were online they were dismissed in some respects by the administration until the students petitioned to have their concerns taken seriously. Connected the oppression to what had come before regarding Las Hijas De Cuauhtémoc. Sexism / old school Chicano lineage. See Facebook page.

Discussion of the linage of violence, university as a site of violence as well as education. History/memory related to Anna NietoGomez’ while at CSUN.  Chicano studies unhappy that NietoGomez approved reporting child abuse by campus leader to authorities. [Report violence against children!] Sylvia Castillo pointed out that some of the people who were responsible for the funeral at CSULB are here and there never has been an apology from those actually involved. Antonia Castañeda made the point that it’s not too late for there to be a public acknowledgement of the wrongs done.

Friday Shopping and Lunch at NACCS

This conference feels a bit like a marathon. There’s so much to see and hear, so many people to talk to. Today I miss the first morning session (wasn’t feeling great) but then went to the first plenary (great talks by student scholars) and then got some cash and headed to the book exhibit.

I’m not sure what I was expected, but this was much much more. The book exhibit at MLA is cool — lots of publishers, lots of books. But the NACCS book exhibit, while smaller in space is full of not just wonderful Chicano/a books, but ART. I bought some lovely stuff — didn’t stop ’til I ran out of money

Apologies for the low quality pictures — I took them with my iPhone and I don’t have the steadiest hands. My first purchases — a NACCS t-shirt — for $5 the deal of the decade as far as I’m concerned. Then I saw a copy 500 Years of Chicana History by Elizabeth Martinez. I hadn’t even heard about the book yet which shows how out of it I am as it came out in 2008. I had to have that too.

At about that moment I got swept up into the friendly and powerful table that MALCS was running. I’d been meaning to join, so I did right then, signing up and paying for my membership. That got me signed up to submit an article next month for review to see if I can take part in a writing workshop in August. In the midst of all of this I saw this beautiful signed framed poster by Lalo Alcaraz for $30. Yes, I bought it.

In the midst of this shopping frenzy, I ran into Deena Gonzalez who I knew from years ago at the a Ford Conference. It was really flattering to hear that she’d been following my progress a bit and she gave me nice praise for (finally) finishing. We chatted a bit and I asked her if I could sit with her at the lunch. She told me I could, that there was room at the table she had planned but there was also going to be a surprise. I was intrigued but then she got swept away and I went over the CSRC table to talk to Lizette and admire the center’s books. As she talked with me, I admired her necklace then saw next her a table full of wonderful jewelry by Mayan Inspirations.

I fell in love with these. Aren’t they great? They look good with my new short hair too.

Lunch was, well quite surprising. I ended up at a table full of people I’d cited in my dissertation. Seriously I was kind of star struck: Alma Lopez, the artist, was next to me, Arturo Madrid was on the other side. Also at the table were Deena, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Emma Perez, Ramon Gutiérrez and Antonia Castañeda. The conversation at lunch was inspiring and full of good humor, as was the speech by Norma Alarcón, the NACCS scholar of the year.

The surprise? After Norma’s speech, Deena, Alicia and Emma took the stage and they announced a new award for an article written by a graduate student, new Ph.D. or young faculty member. It was to be named in honor of Antonia Castañeda. She was stunned and brought to tears by the news. I was so honored to be there at that amazing moment.

NACCS Presentation: “for those who dream of roses / swallow thorns”: Aztlán as Cosmopolitical Space

[This is the exact text of my talk. You can download a pdf version of all the slides: NACCS though I haven’t been able to reach Maria Teresa Fernandez to get her permission to repost them to the internet. She did give me permission to use them in my research when I spoke to her at USC in 2010.  If anyone has a current email address for her, please send it to me at annemarie (dot) perez (at) me (dot) com ]

“for those who dream of roses / swallow thorns”: Aztlán as Cosmopolitical Space

I’ve included in this talk a photographs by Mexican artist Maria Teresa Fernandez.  She’s documented the building of the Wall between the US and Mexico and the increasing militarization of the border.  These first images are about the demise of Friendship Park, the point where the US and Mexico meet the Pacific ocean.  Here’s the park as it was, a space for meeting friends and family on the other side.


Here it is as the barricade was erected in 2009, creating a yards wide distance between US residents and the border fence, dividing people.


New rules are in place forbidding contact that was, until recently, relatively casual and free.


Modern usage of the term Aztlán dates from the 1960s-1970s civil rights movements. . The poet Alturista gave Aztlán’s mythology in his poem introducing the journal Aztlan Continue reading

Thursday Morning at NACCS

I’ve spent the morning giving my talk –which I’m going to post here as soon as I figure out how to put it up– and attending sessions at NACCS.  My first response to my first experience attending this conference is WOW — there are a lot of Chicanos and Chicanas here.  Everyone is friendly and have been nothing but supportive, interested and above all enthusiastic.  There’s a lot of celebration and old friends meeting, but a great deal of concern about the attacks on ethnic studies, especially those under way in Arizona.

I’m taking a break to get a little food and to blog about this presentation before I stop being able to read my notes.

I tried to tweet the sessions but (so far anyway) I haven’t been able to get onto wifi at the hotel I have just been given wifi access so my tweeting has been was limited to what I can do on my phone.  This was less than successful — I type too slow on it to really be able to keep up, plus my battery bit it half way through the second session.

The second session was a great presentation called “Chicana/a Archives and the Chicano Movement: A Discussion” by Southern California archivists working on building or maintaining university archives on Chicano/a history and community.

Even before the discussion started, they shared a link to a great resource — a picture archive on farmworker history called The Farmworker Movement Documentation Project.   It has a great  digital archive of documents and photo resources.

Richard Griswold del Castillo started the discussion by stating the importance of archives to the Chicano/a community.  He named some — Bancroft and the Chicano/a collection at UC Berkeley, UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center, the art collection at UC Santa Barbara, Chicano Archive University of Texas at Austin, and the Chicano collection at Stanford. Big universities have built collections, he explained. State universities are seen as not having the resources, librarians and policies that put value on collection.  This is political too as what’s collected reflects the values of the system that collects it.

Discussed the need that caused the Chicana and Chicano Archive at SDSU.  It’s a community based archive focusing on the Chicano/a Movement / Struggle 1960s to present in the San Diego – Tijuana region.  Also a specific focus on the contributions of Chicanas to the Chicano movement.

What they collect:

  • videos & films (including an amazing home video on the building of Chicano Park)
  • photographs
  • computer files
  • manuscripts
  • rare and old newspapers
  • handwritten notes
  • oral histories
  • Chicano Studies department history

Rita Sanchez added that it’s important to understand people and their families’ emotional attachment to their papers, posters and photographs.  Yet the building of the archive connected community to the university — lots of people from off-campus attended events.

Their plan is now to take the opening exhibit back to Logan Barrio.

Rita Sanchez went on talk about the importance of the archive and of archiving.  That people’s minds need to be changed about its importance. Items get lost and stolen or rained on and she urged the audience to contribute their papers and record their presentations.  She also suggested making history by keeping a journal of day to day life and struggle — these control how the history gets written.  The archive can be open or it can be controlled — history can be taken away.

Lizette Guerra, archivist for UCLA’s CRSC discussed memory and the nature of remembering, asking what do we remember and what do we forget, what biases are transmitted through selection of memories.  The effects whose story gets told and how, especially in underserved and represented communities.  Community archives creates and preserves community memory.

She outlined CRSC initiatives which include:

  • photo documentation project
  • post WW2 initiatives
  • LGBT and Mujeres initiatives
  • Latino art and artist survey – art in Los Angeles.  (these are oral histories)

She and the CRSC are advocates for the creation of archival spaces and community — “Everyone is a Lincoln.” ~ Yolanda Retter Vargas

“You don’t have to donate to me, but donate somewhere.”

The last presentation was by Romelia Salinas about a very new project the East Los Angeles Archive, which is housed at CSULA .

Proposes to cover:

  • East LA Blowouts
  • CSULA student movement
  • Brown Berets
  • Chicano anti war movement

About the community, keeping it in the community — with East LA an expression of community not geography.

Proposes to serve:

  • primary source research collection with emphasis on Chicano Movement
  • national and international resource
  • further connection of CSULA with local community
  • enhance the recruitment of faculty and students with scholarly interest in subject.

First donation: Gloria Arellanes Papers.  Held reception with lots of off campus people attending, good publicity and undergraduates already using papers as part of a class.

Question: How do undergraduates use papers? Answer: Griswald del Castillo– has them write a five page paper using only the materials they locate in the archive.

My thoughts: Amazing presentation.  And when I talked with Lizette afterwards, she invited me to archive a copy of my dissertation at the CRSC — I was stunned speechless, honored and of course I’m going to!


[In celebration of my dissertation being accepted today by my university’s library, I’m put up its abstract. Don’t worry, I’m probably not going to post the whole thing.]

Title: ”Splitting Aztlán: American Resistance and Chicana Visions of a Radical Utopia”

My dissertation researches American resistance movements, focusing on nineteenth-century Transcendentalism and the Chicano/a movements of the 1960s through 1990s.  It is concerned specifically with the emergence of Chicano/a literature from the late nineteenth century through the twentieth century, especially Chicana authorship and editorship as part of a tradition of U.S. resistance literature.

The 1960s was a period of renewed interest in the literature of American Transcendentalist communities, especially the writings of David Henry Thoreau regarding resistance and civil disobedience.  This re-reading shaped and informed American civil protest literature of the 1960s, including that of the Chicano Movement. Reverberations connect the two periods in the area of non-violent social protest.  Further resonances may be heard now between the nineteenth-century suffrage and abolitionist movements and the 1960s civil rights and anti-war movements, as they questioned the United States’ role as an imperial nation — a role begun with the nineteenth-century policy of Manifest Destiny.

The replication of and discursive focus on nation and universalized communities of men, opened space for women as editors and authors.  Chicana writers and editors of the late twentieth century, like the protofeminists of the nineteenth-century suffrage movement, split the single “divine soul” by pointing out the contradictions and flaws in a discourse on the nation which presumes only masculine subjects.  Both ultimately created textual communities as sites for feminist, cosmopoetic and cosmopolitical interventions.  At the same time, like African American feminists of the same period, they resisted the essentialist and universalizing feminist gaze, creating out of this a U.S. differential feminism of color.

The opening section of my dissertation, comprising the first two chapters, is an introductory discussion of textual communities and resistance literature, focusing on both United States Transcendentalism and the emergence of Chicana feminist authors and editors.  Chapter Two is a reading of María Amparo Ruiz de Burton’s 1872 text, Who Would Have Thought It?, as both a satire of United States northeastern culture and politics, and a statement of resistance to Manifest Destiny.  Ruiz de Burton’s work resists the westward gaze of northeastern U.S. literature, instead looking east from western / Californian eyes, specifically at the New England northeast.  A satire, the novel was explicitly written to resist the author’s sense of cultural annihilation, against both the Californios’ sense of their own invisibility and the larger national policy of Manifest Destiny.

The second section of my dissertation, comprising Chapters Three and Four, looks at the emergence of Chicana authorship and editorship during the Chicano civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s.  Chapter Three examines late twentieth-century Chicana authorship and editorship, using close textual readings from diverse archival sources, including the Chicano newspaper El Grito del Norte and its collective of writers and editors, especially Elizabeth Martinez and Enriqueta Vásquez, to explore the evolution of Chicana editorship and the development of textual communities within and around the developing mythology of Aztlán.  Chapter Four focuses on Chicana edited anthologies in the 1980s, especially This Bridge Called My Back and Chicana Voices.  The two anthologies, though different in many respects and created for different purposes, created  textual communities of writers which participated in the project of developing and defining a specific new feminism by women of color, as well as Anzaldúa’s border theory.  This research examines and participates in the discussion of emergent writing and editorship by women of color, and how these feminists fit into the larger tradition of textual communities in the United States.

The dissertation concludes with a re-examination of Aztlán as a site of resistance, a borderland cosmopolitan and cosmopoetic space.  While “cosmopolitan” traditionally speaks of urban sensibilities, recent scholarship on the modern and postmodern evolution of cosmopolitanism offers a new and renewed vision that utilizes pre-Kantian cosmopolitanism.  This vision imagines a world city space and citizenship which exists outside the confines of borders, while also tempering the effects of globalism; a space which acts against the confines of nationalism and outside the power of the state.  This new type of cosmopolitanism has been named “borderland cosmopolitanism,” one which exists at rural crossroads as well as in cities; it is a cosmopolitanism of the indigenous as well as the elite.  Borderland cosmopolitanism does not just attack the nation; it also destabilizes citizenship and, in doing so, endangers the authority of the state and nation.

Getting Ready For NACCS

I’m giving a paper for the National Association of Chicana Chicano Studies conference.  This will be my first time attending.  The conference is being held in Pasadena this year.

Even though I could probably rent a car and drive there and back each day, I decided to pay to stay at the hotel.  Part of the reason is convenience — my paper is at 9:00 AM the first day and I don’t want to have to drive through rush hour traffic and worry about being late.  But the other reason is I really want to experience the conference, come early, stay late and all that.  This seems an obvious thing to say, but I know I won’t be as likely to be there if I’m not actually there.

The paper I’m giving is a bit of a re-hash of a paper I gave in September 2010 at St. John’s College in Durham.  It’s on re-envisioning Aztlán as cosmopolitan space.  I’m nervous about giving it in a way I wasn’t nervous in England.  The scholars at the conference in the UK knew lots about cosmopolitanism but  knew nothing about Chicano/a studies or Aztlán.  Here I’ll be talking to people who not only know about it, but may feel invested in other visions and definitions of Aztlán.  It preys upon all my fears of not being “really” Chicana, or not Chicana enough.

That said, I’m so looking forward to spending a three days immersed in Chicano/a studies surrounded by Chicano/a scholars.  How cool is that?

Having just finished my dissertation…

God, I can’t tell you how weird it is to write that. It’s been this guilty millstone around my neck for so long, anytime I’d start to enjoy or work on something I’d think “but shouldn’t I be writing my dissertation?”

And now it’s over.  “Splitting Aztlán: American Resistance and Chicana Visions of a Radical Utopia” is in a queue to have her formatting checked over by my university’s editors.  Soon she will be on ProQuest, searchable by anyone who cares to look.  My days as a student are, at last, numbered.

Ironically, now that my dissertation is turned in, I can’t leave her alone.  I’ve made a dozen minute corrections, found typos, glaring errors, whatever.  I keep uploading new versions.

Paul tells me that down this path lies madness, something I already know something about.  But she calls to me, wanting me to read, re-read and edit.  The document is so far from perfect I can hardly stand it.

Must leave it alone.  It’s done.

Besides, I’ve got a talk for NACCS to get ready.