Chicana/o Studies: Wikis


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Chicana/o Studies (also written Chicano Studies, Chicana/Chicano Studies, Chican@ Studies) is an academic discipline that originated in the Chicano Movement of the late 1960s and 1970s. Chicana/o Studies concerns itself with the study of Chicana/os, Latina/os, and Mexican Americans[1], drawing upon a variety of fields, including, but not limited to, history, sociology, the arts, and critical theory.

The Plan de Santa Barbara is generally considered to be the manifesto of Chicana/o Studies. Drafted in 1969 at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the Plan emphasizes the need for education, and especially higher education, in Chicano community empowerment. For this reason, many Chicana/o Studies programs place great value on community involvement in addition to traditional forms of education and research.

In many universities across the United States, Chicana/o Studies is linked with comparative ethnic studies and other Ethnic Studies fields: Black Studies, Asian American Studies, Native American Studies, etc. The emphasis of the aforementioned academic disciplines on community involvement and social justice generally distinguish them from Area Studies.



It is simplistic to say that Mexican Americans and other Latinos have always studied themselves. Fray Angélico Chávez took a Hispano view of the history of New Mexico, George I. Sánchez analyzed sociological statistics pertaining to Mexican Americans, Américo Paredes compiled and rendered Mexican American folklore, Carey McWilliams documented the lives and struggles of Mexican Americans, Ernesto Galarza organized agricultural workers and migration; they were all pioneers in the field. But the study and teaching was not institutionalized until the late 1960s, although Julián Samora established the Mexican-American Studies Center at Notre Dame in the early 1960s.

The major thrust for Chicano Studies came within the context of the African-American civil rights struggle. During this period, Mexican American educators demanded that colleges and universities address the pedagogical needs of Mexican American students who the schools were failing. Major themes were bilingual education and the building of positive self-images. In 1967, a student collective at the University of California, Berkeley (Cal) began publishing El Grito: A Journal of Contemporary Mexican American Thought. About three years later, students and faculty at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) began publishing Aztlán: A Chicano Journal of the Social Sciences and the Arts. These publications define the interdisciplinary nature of Chicano Studies.

Chicano studies programs and departments were born out of the struggle. The formation of the United Mexican American Students (UMAS) in California and the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) were major catalysts. Exploratory programs were developed at California State College, Los Angeles (CSCLA) now California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) in 1968 and at California State University, Fresno (Fresno State). At the height of the Chicano student movement that spawned the Chicano Blowouts, (a massive student boycott to protest unfair conditions in Los Angeles Unified School District schools). CSULA established the nation’s first Chicano Studies department in 1968. These formations were in response to the social circumstances of Mexican Americans throughout the country. Other programs followed, usually after intense battles between students and administration, at San Fernando Valley State College in 1969, today known as California State University, Northridge (CSUN), the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) in 1971, and the University of Texas, El Paso (UTEP) in 1970 with Felipe de Ortego y Gasca as Founding Director.

By the mid-1970s, Chicana feminists challenged the masculine domination of the field, making gender issues central to the concerns of the academic community. After intense struggle at the National Association for Chicano Studies the name of the association was changed to Chicana/o studies, underscoring that Chicanas were equal partners in the area of Chicana/o Studies. Through the persistence of scholars such as Dr. Yolanda Broyles González, Chicana Studies is not a variable or a discipline within Chicana/Chicano Studies but it claims ownership of the area of study. California State University, Northridge had 28 tenure track professors, two-thirds are Chicanas; the department offers 166 sections a semester. Dr. Mary Pardo has played a major role in this development. Chicanas have a controlling interest in the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies (NACCS).

The need for Chicana/o Studies has increased since 1969. In 1970 there were about 9 million Latinos of which 5.5 million were of Mexican extraction. Today that number has zoomed to 45 million about 32 million of who are of Mexican origin. Most babies born in Texas are Latino. The resurgence of Chicana/o student activism in the early 1990s begot a major Chicana/o Studies Department. UCLA's MEChA Chapter took a leadership role and protested an attempt by the UCLA Administration to eliminate the Chicano Studies Program. After a three year struggle, which involved the support of the The United Community and Labor Alliance (also U.C.L.A.-a take on the campus name and consisting of Mexican American activists and community leaders) and a student hunger strike, led by Marcos Aguilar and Minnie Fergusson, in 1993 resulted in UCLA establishing a Center for Interdisciplinary Instruction in Chicana/o Studies. The César Chávez Center was later changed to a full fledged campus department in 2004.

Michigan State University and the University of California, Santa Barbara have doctoral programs in Chicana/o Studies. The University of California, Riverside has a doctorate program in Ethnic Studies. There are also centers and institutes of Mexican American Studies. These units are distinguished for promoting research on Mexican origin peoples. The Mexican American Studies Center at the University of Houston distinguishes itself by heavy involvement with students and the community. One last point. There are more individual courses with the disparate disciplines labeled Chicano history, Chicano literature etc. These are not Chicana/o Studies but areas within a discipline. They do not give Chicanas/os a voice within the academy.

Programs and departments

This is an abbreviated list of programs throughout the United States which can be associated with Chicana/o Studies.

See also


  1. ^ National Association for Chicana/Chicano Studies,

External links



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