Dossier: I the Field n


and developing its methodology. we convened a panel of the co-editorsbefore a live audience. With these questions. at the National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies (NACCS)annual meetings. and Chela Sandoval EDITOR’S NOTE:To mark the occasion of our recent publication. The Chicano Studies Reader: An Anthology of Aztlh. In the near future this type of statement will become untenable. while other times it is more in the nature of whining. Avila. Sometimes it is a declaration. defrning its object of study. This is a welcome move. the field continually reinvents itself in order to reinvest itself i its cultural and political moment.” We hear it in the office halls.Roundtable on the State of Chicana/o Studies Karen Mary Davalos. The brave and brilliant works of Chela Sandoval (Methodology o the Oppressedl and Emma f A z t m 2 7 2 Fall2002 141 . and in the classrooms. One point that the co-editors all agreed UPOR is reflected in their comments: Chicano studies has always asked itself these two questions as part of the process of imagining community.1asked them two questions: How would you characterize the current moment i n Chicano studies? And where do you see t h e p l d going? T e r rehi sponses are below. we are witnessing the systematic description and critical analysis of Chicana/o studies methodology. n Karen Mary Davalos At this moment. Rafael P&ez-Torres. at the Mujeres Activas en Letras en Cambio Social (MALCS) summer institutes.Eric R. 1970-2000. I t has become a common experience to hear the refrain “Chicana/o studies does not have a methodology. engaging otherplds.

engaged scholars are producing important social changes. analyzed. In the future. what it is we are doing. and acknowledged and we will witness a turning point in the twenty-first century that will decenter the authoritative focus on southwestern experiences.” and “native ethnography. political science. They also suggest future methodological paths that will move us from the imagined space of decolonialism into the actual.Daualos. and history. as they did in 1996 at the University of Arizona Press. without a collective outcry from queer allies. understood. We expect to hear and read refutations to the myth of the detached. We will be able to trace how radical lesbian Chicana feminists pushed us to consider the limitations of gender politics and created a third space feminism that liberated all of us. and how we do it. objective social analyst. A few scholars have identified a “politics of love” that drives research. we will acknowledge the centrality of queer theory. Gonzdez and Alicia Gaspar de Alba.” We are creating terms that attempt to codify our increasing attention to positionality as a premise of our work. Throughout the interdisciplinary project of Chicana/o studies. the 142 . The social position of the social scientist is rapidly becoming recognized as a component of research and publication. In the social sciences we are paying attention to the decolonial imaginary. Chicana/o social analysts do not hold a monopoly on invested scholarship. There is much to be done to recover the past of queer experience. we will recognize the diverse ways that Chicana/o scholars are interested and engaged in their work. while others refer to it as “transformative methodology. This particular aspect of Chicana/o studies methodology will help us to avoid the binary of applied and so-called unapplied work. but not static. No longer will a southwestern Chicana/o experience be the standard. Perez-Torres. Regional differences will be mapped. liberatory project. Homophobic attacks on radical lesbian Chicana feminists will not enter circulation and publication. sociolo@. described.Sandoud Perez (DecobniaZ Imaginary) name and describe how we conceptualize the project of Chicana/o studies. But this recovery will result in lifting the veil of our homophobia from the contributions that queer Chicana/o scholars are making to Chicana/o studies. And although this is current in the fields of anthropology. In a short time.” “intervention. and can only speak to the necessity of this future. Avila. like Deena J. I am less an expert than some of the people present in the audience.

Louise Atio Nuevo Kerr. masculinity. and for scholars who have comparative training across geographic regions. region. We will see tenure-track job announcements for Chicana/o studies faculty who specialize in the Midwest. We will have a clearer understanding of Chicana/os in North Carolina and Boston. contradictory. how do we look upon the “decentering” of marginal identities like the Chicano subject? Understandably. and the East. skin color. and the Yakima Valley of Washington State. but now more than ever our postmodern age calls for a bold honesty to deepen our understanding of the complex. in 1976. published a special issue on the Midwest and it was met with indifference.Roundtable on the State o Chicano Studies f yardstick. or was recreated in the cities of Chicago. and whiteness. some might look upon this fracturing of Chicana/o identity with trepidation. grew. Though we celebrate and perpetrate the unraveling of hegemonic identities like the nation-state. I suggest the following as avenues by which to further our understanding of the Chicana/o past and present: 143 . paused. and others will be referred to as the “precursors” to new specialties in Chicana/o studies. and generation. it will no longer be possible to ignore regional diversity as we did nearly thirty years ago when AztltLn. scholarly explorations of “the Chicano” have now yielded to a postmodern array of multiple identities pegged to class. given the ongoing imperative to forge a unified social movement. Iowa. Francisco Arturo Rosales. gender. And our departments will not be considered comprehensive without these specialists. Philadelphia. The works of Gilbert Cardenas. and East Lansing. and even contested nature of Chicana/o identity-even as we continue the struggle to enact change. their poetic consciousness and political practices. Seattle. That is. We will observe new social movements as our collective story of institutional access and denial is played out over and over again throughout the United States. sexuality. the Pacific Northwest. Minnesota. Avila Chicana/o studies has come a long way since its inception in the mid-1960s. New York. Students in Chicana/o studies will know how El Movimiento moved through. or in rural areas of Ohio. In what began as a mode of historical investigation inspired by the Chicano movement. language. Miriam Wells. Eric R.

and the dispossession of land in particular. or by explaining how the city’s racialized spaces-barrios and ghettos-took shape through a larger set of economic practices and public policies that imposed racial segregation upon the urban built environment.” which acknowledges the active role of community members who forged a familiar communal environment within the larger urban fabric. is the very basis of Chicano consciousness in the United States and it is in the legacy of that history that we can locate the making of Chicana/o identity.Sandoval f n More attention to the role o space i the shaping of Chicma/o identity. services) among diverse peoples has produced social movements predicated upon distinct group identities. jobs. context. or to the particular cultural traditions that distinguish Chicana/os from other social groups. New Mexico. Japanese Americans. Further attention to the racial ambiguities underlying the historical constructionofChicana/oa n t @ . A deeper understding o how the making of Chicano idenf tity has been contingent upon thepresence ofdiverse socialgroups. Texas. and “whites” shape the formation of Chicano identity and consciousness after the 1960s? Excavating the historical entanglements between Chicanos and racial and ethnic groups in Los Angeles and elsewhere does not mean compromising sensitivity to the unique historical circumstances under which Chicana/o identity took shape. but it does call for greater attention to how Chicana/o identity emerged in response to the presence of other social groups within the US. land.Davalos. In many ways. Recent advances in Critical Race Theory illuminate the way in which racial and ethnic identities take shape through an understanding of difference from other social groups. African Americans. among others. and the Midwest. The spatial imagination within Chicano studies also calls attention to the complex processes of community formation. As an object of historical 144 . where the competition for resources (land. Native Americans. a growing consciousness of regional diversity within the larger Chicano community requires a deeper understanding of how distinct Chicano identities evolved according to the inflections of particular cultural regions within the United States-California. either by emphasizing the creation of community “from below.rez-Torres. This process is most evident in cities like Los Angeles.Avi4 Pi. In what ways did Southern California’s Chicano movement arise from a set of interactions with the city’s diverse ethnic and racial groups? How did the history of Chicano interaction with Jews. Moreover.

providing mute testimony to what was once there. English language acquisition. military service. I remember looking through my father’s study-he was a professor of Chicano studies at Cal State Northridge when it was first foundedand stumbling across a little journal that I thought was at once esoteric and radical: A z t l h . 145 . but it does offer perhaps a more honest view of the complex dynamics of identity formation among Mexican immigrants and their descendants in the United States. Exposing some of the means by which Chicanos have pursued the “wages of whiteness” does not comply with the typical insistence upon Mexican Americans as an oppressed racial minority. reviewing the many editions of the journal reminded me of my own past. census until 1930 categorized people of Mexican descent as Caucasian whites suggests that despite the persistence of racial discrimination toward Mexican immigrants and Mexican Americans. Chicanos confronted the racial diversity of American society in complex and often contradictory ways.Roundtable on the State of Chicano Studies inquiry. fossilized essays searching out the occasional interesting formation lying about. etc. While exploring the historical formation of a white racial identity implicates an array of “white” ethnic g ro u p s-Jew s. The fact that the US. which require further exploration by historians of the Chicano experience. I thought it would be f something like a n archeological excavation. whiteness remained open to Chicanos who pursued assimilation through various strategies-education. I imagined sorting through strata of dusty. racism. More to the point. Instead. Germans. suburbanization. the project proved again to me how Azth-and by extension Chicano/a studies-has always been a living intellectual organism that continues to grow and even flourish. ItaliansChicanos have remained largely absent from this discussion. “whiteness” has captivated scholars inside and outside of ethnic studies programs. Rafael Pirez-Torres When we first undertook the project of editing an anthology of Aztlan: A Journal o Chicano Studies. So the opportunity to look back over thirty years of A z t h took me back thirty years in my own life. Irish. it also took me through a slice of what we would now call a subaltern intellectual history. On a personal level. Inheriting a hierarchical notion of race and racial identity deeply ingrained within Mexican culture.

Many of the essays. who provided intellectual and practical support through the process of sorting. One result of this drive has been. Avila. to question the nature of that community. In the end. and what made working on the anthology so enriching. All grapple with a drive to convey something new about and relevant to a historically underrepresented community. and political project. what struck me most as I read through back issues of the journal. In the end. the catalyst for the anthology.Davalos. I especially owe gratitude to Chon Noriega. The journal arose out of a desire to question how knowledge gets produced and what forms of knowledge are replicated in the university system. especially those of the early years. Pkrez-Torres. I t responded to a need inherent in the social and cultural inequities replicated by institutions of higher learning. one of the great benefits of this concern with “community” has been to ask simple but very important questions: Who belongs to a Chicano community? What are the contours of that community? What is the responsibility of academics to their representations of community? So such issues as the role of gender in determining inclusion or exclusion in community became key in the study of difference within a Chicano studies context. Much of the scholarship published in the journal emerges from a n intersection where concern for social transformation and passion for intellectual inquiry cross. As gender will continue to be a guiding category of intellectual inquiry in the field. attempt to show how traditional disciplinary boundaries can limit the kinds of academic questions that can be asked. so must a focus on sexuality become more and more central to future analyses. was how certain key issues kept recurring. They actively interrogate the effect of methodology and modes of analysis. While not everyone has always agreed on what the nature of that project should be. debating. The Chicano Studies Reader marks three decades of a shared intellectual. all along. Queer theory and its relevance to Chicano studies represents a growing arena of 146 . social. and deciding the shape of the collection. I’ve decided that neither the archeological nor the biological analogy is really adequate in giving shape to the contours of either the journal or Chicano studies.Sandoval I t was a real pleasure working with the friends and colleagues who put this collection together. and Wendy Belcher.

to be not necessarily the only ways o understanding complex f social. it means that the framework of Chicano studies needs to be modified as other communities-with roots in El Salvador. At the same time. and edgiekated on the border. On the one hand. more attention should be paid to the as yet understudied role that class plays in the constitution of Chicano/a subjectivities.” 147 . What effect has economic mobility had on the self-identifymg signifier “Chicana” or “Chicano”?The reality of economic and political empowerment that increasingly characterizes Chicano/a life impacts the political and historical valence of the term “Chicano.” Finally. Chela Sandoval We became Chicanos. and Guatemala. On the other hand.Roundtable on the State o Chicano Studies f intellectual work. marking three decades of Chicano studies scholarship. -Jose Burciaga. the answers that these voices have asserted at times have proven. By the same token. Drink Cultura On the occasion of the publication of The Chicano Studies Reader. I offer four specifications for designing the arena of knowledges that we call “Chicano studies. Chicano studies. razed. must engage other fields of scholarship. As thirty years of AztltLn attest. working hopefully into an unsure future. this interest testifies to the fact that Chicano studies has from the first concerned itself with the dynamics of transnational movement. cultural. So the intellectual journey documented by AztltLn continues. the interests and perspectives of Chicano studies should help in a mutually beneficial and respectful institutionalization of other communities and their concerns. the inevitably vexing issue of immigration and its sociocultural effects on both a micro and macro level continues to be an important topic for our consideration. new agents in history will find ways of making their voices heard. Nicaragua. As Latino studies develops. born. among other countries-impact the development of current social conditions. and political issues. while continuing to maintain a much-needed political and institutional presence. This is a legacy we can all celebrate. in hindsight.

meaning “across.Sandoval SPECIFICATION STUDIES TRANSDISCIPLINE 1: CHICANO Is A The English word “trans”derives from the Latin. cannot be comprehended as a content-only additive within any traditional discipline-though such approaches can contribute greatly to the field of Chicano studies. Indeed. Chicano studies. global. gendered. can only be grasped through the use of transdisciplinary extensions. Chicano studies examines the places where borders “grate against one another to bleed. SPECIFICATION STUDIESOUTLAW 2: CHICANO Is STUDIES John Rechy pronounced Chicano studies as “outlawstudies. French. I t is the enactment of translation and transversals. Avila. Neither can the transdiscipline of Chicano studies be understood within the traditional discipline of sociology. beyond. or Latin American studies. Ptkez-Torres. transfer.or post-discipline.” Chicano studies depends on such permeability and action. Mexican. cultural. over. and contents that willfully slip from one realm of meaning to another. methods. through. Transdisciplinarity is a transitive operation that points to its own processes-in-action.” Or as Jose Burciaga put it in 1977. Chicano studies is transdisciplinary. or through-and through. Those familiar with Chicano studies will recognize how these concepts describe borderlands/nepantla/ frontera activities as formulated by Chicana theorist Gloria Anzaldua and many others. Italian. physiognomic.” La conciencia de la mestiza is itself a transitive concept: it requires a self-aware slippage from one realm of meaning to another. Spanish. social. transdisciplinarity is a set of methods that actively links knowledges of what-is t o knowledges of what-might-be. Indeed. transdisciplinary scholarship performs theories. English. This is the methodological reason that Chicano studies cannot be understood within traditional disciplinary terms. It is a field that focuses on the effects of translocation. as only an additive to conventional sociological concerns. Chicano studies does not replicate German. Like the transitive verb form that conveys and connects action from subject to object. and scholarly reasons. and this is true for historical. The theories and methods related to conciencia de la rnestiza. colonial. “Chicanos depreciated by 148 . political. transposition.Davalos. and transporting. radical mestizaje. now recognized as a trans.

became Chicanos. Its aim is to advance the knowledge required to comprehend colonizer and colonized psyches. Claiming indigenism@-its physiognomy. Marxist. and so on) is a political term. In trymg to identify with each” That “country”stands outside the law of any geographic nationhood. socialist. women’s studies is tied to the twentieth-century politics of feminism. claiming the powers and shame of the conquistadors. claiming mestiz@.Roundtable on the State of Chicano Studies Mexican nationals and by American nationals sought to create another. “born. languages.S. anthropology and biology are rooted in the nineteenth-century politics of imperialism and racism. Just as the U. bodies. To become Chicano was one response to denigration by “good citizens” from two nation-states. SPECIFICATION 3: “CHICANO” POLITICAL Is A TERM The Chicano/a movement of the 1960s left scholars with this recognition: The labels “Chicano/a” (like the label feminist. razed and edgiekated on the bleeding borders. while condemned by both sides. oppositional relocations. I t defies disciplinary categorization. The term “Chicano. institutes 149 . capitalist.” chose our lot. People who lived outside the law of either social order claimed as a source of strength the very outsider status with which they were once belittled. we denounced both and identified as a third alternative with a little and a lot from each side. they named themselves and became Chicanos and Chicanas.and pachuc@ languages and styles. Chicano studies can be conceived as outlaw studies. cultures. disidentifylng and re-identifying in constant. third space country. in Burciaga’s words: “We were caught on the razor sharp edge of two vastly different cultures. We thus decided. academic discipline of English is rooted in the politics of eighteenth-century colonialism. the United States and Mexico.”like the term p o c b s p o i l e d fruit-was used by Mexican-American people to identify and disparage those who did not or were not able to conform to the properly acceptable standards of “MexicanAmerican” citizenship. environmental and film studies are rooted in the radical politics of the 1970s. the disciplines of physics and cybernetics are funded by governments and twentieth-century world-war machines.poch@. Outlaw Chicano studies was born when Chicano thinkers began to understand that. and cultures throughout the Americas.

trans-ing. colonial. Chicana feminist cultural workers have insisted upon recognizing the legacies of La Llorona. The electronic is meant to re-gender meaning. A d a . indigenous. Pirez-Torres. Chicanisma is a politics that not only seeks to understand race. a mixture of indigenous. at 150 . “Disidentification”is Jose Esteban Munoz’s term for the method that pushes cultural norms into motion. children-for difference itself. and mestizo/a world experiences.” she began the process of naming the contours necessary for understanding Chicana studies as a transdiscipline. La Llorona’s life-in-death and death-in-life was for the salvation of her children: Coyolxauhqui’s reach stretched all the way to power: La Malinche’s life was a calculated guerrilla act set toward the disintegration of war. The “a” symbol here is an important indicator. the denigrated princess and poetess of a new race.Daualos. colonizing. psychic. the goddess body torn to pieces. and La Malinche. Chicanisma means committing to a transdisciplinary disidentifcation. and sexual equality between genders a priority as important as its ethic to lift up Catholic. Though every knowledge position is transitory. In its typed version it is a technological feat. These themes continue matrixing. and social powers in the Americas. and de-compartmentalizing the knowledges we call “Chicano studies. Chicano feminist thinkers have insisted on this seemingly simple lexical recognition since the 1960s. Coyolxauhqui. but also-as indicated by the @-represents a transdisciplinary recognition of gender and sexual difference. and machinic cultures. the transgendered. This method is achieved in order to enable what Emma Perez theorizes as sitios y Zenguas that are safe for women. de la mestiza. the crying woman. sociology and peace institutes are shot through with the politics of liberalism-so too is Chicano Studies grounded in the 1960s and 1970sradical social politics of Chicanisma and Indigenisma. Latino/a. “@‘I SPECIFICATION 4: CHICANO STUDIES XICANSTUDIES ARE When Gloria Anzaldua named “la conciencia de la frontera.” transforming them into Chicana studies. third world. But to recognize the (or the “o/a”)would require Chicanismo to make social. I t would not be legible or thinkable without the machine. It is a cyborg creation. Sandoual of war and terrorism are supported by the politics of rightwing conservatism.

The Chicano Studies Reader:An Anthology of Aztlan.Roundtable on the State of Chicano Studies the same time each is an activist position. as follows: 0 0 Decolonizing the territory. What kinds of politics should be performed? For whom? To what ends? Conturing identities. gender.” Concepts such as “la facultad. The nature of la conciencia de la mestiza is activist-transitive. and sex and difference studies. This last subfield gives u s ways to link Chicana studies with its responsibilities toward global peace.” which is similar in structure to what I call the “differential” social movement and the “methodology of the oppressed. peoples been territorialized? Deterritorialized? Performing politics. minds. From Maya to Aztec to Spanish to African to European to Asian to mestiza to pomosexuals to heterosexuals to queer to loving citizenwarriors. when. Remapping the world. Chicana studies is a n institutional location available for those whose work is aimed toward a living planetary future. bodies. 19702000 contains four sections that in my estimation correspond to subfields in the transdiscipline of Chicana studies.” and identities that are “refugees of a world on fire. how.” provided by thinkers Anzaldua and Moraga.” to “perform politics. where illumination is derived from the coming sixth sun.” “the coatlicue state. These methods include those of “radical mestizaje” developed by Rafael Perez-Torres: “third space feminism” and the “decolonial imaginary” developed by Emma Perez: “testimonias as method” and spoken word art performance activism of the Americas (SWAPA). a n d the powerful method J o s e Esteban MuAoz calls “disidentification. Chicana feminisms have provided these and other methods for developing th e methodologies for tr a nsdisciplinary Chicana studies. histories. writing.” “nepantla. and why should Chicanas identify.” to “trans-the-disciplines. create unexpected connections with diaspora 151 .” to move toward freedom. geographies. or disidentify? The point to any activist (dis)identification is to “decolonize the territory. In this subfield we ask: How have lands.

The writings of Xicana lesbian theorists have advanced the concept of amor en Aztlan. Avila.Davalos. 152 . a hermeneutic of “love”-love understood as a means of social transformation. Transdisciplinary Xican studies is a worlding Indigeneism@/Latinidad/Mestizaje/ Chicanism@ that “edges” every meaning category in a constant movement toward freedom. Perez-Torres. Sandoval and cyberfeminist studies of the borderlands.

2000). He is co-editor of The Chicano Studies Reader: An f Anthology o Aztlun. is author of Exhibiting Mestizaje: Mexican (American) Museums in t e Diaspora (University of New h Mexico Press. She contributed the foreword to the twentieth-anniversary edition of This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women o Color (Routledge). assistant professor of Chicana/o studies at Loyola Marymount University.He has published articles on postmodernism. R. His current work focuses on mestizaje and the Chicana/o cultural imagination. is the author of numerous articles. multiculturalism.ERIC AVILA. is the author of Movements in Chicano Poetry: Against Myths. 1970-2000(Los Angeles: UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center). Trained as a cultural anthropologist with a specialization in feminist studies. professor of Chican@studies at the associate University of California at Santa Barbara. She is co-editor f of The Chicano Studies Reader: An Anthology o Aztlan. . He is co-editor of The Chicano Studies Reader: An Anthology o Aztlcm.ucla. including “US Third World Feminism: The Theory and Method of Oppositional Consciousness in the Postmodern World. is writing an intellectual history of the Los Angeles freeways. her work addresses popu- CHELA SANDOVAL. 1970f 2000 (LosAngeles: UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center).” Her publications range in topic from cyber cultures to millennia1 cultural studies and include Methodology o the Oppressed: f f Theory Out o Bounds (University of Minnesota Press. associate professor of English literature at the University of California at h s Angeles.”and “Theorizing White Consciousness for a Post-Empire World.due out in 2003. edu. 1996). KAREN MARY DAVALOS. 2001). RAFAEL PEREZ-TORRES. He can be contacted at perezt@humnet.”“Re-Entering Cyberspace. 1970-2000 f (Los Angeles: UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center). assistant professor of Chicano Studies in the Cesar Chavez Center at the University of California at Los Angeles. Against Margins (CambridgeUniversity Press. and contemporary American literature.

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