¿Juntos o Separados? New Hemispheric Approaches in Chicanx History
Endorsed by OAH Committee on the Status of ALANA Historians and ALANA Histories, IEHS, and OHA
Saturday, April 1, 2023, 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Type: Paper Session
Tags: Immigration and Internal Migration; Latino/a; Nationalism and Transnationalism
The field of Chicanx historiography continues to evolve and expand beyond the confines of the nation/state. This panel led by emerging historians will present studies that call for a hemispheric approach to transborder social movements, diplomatic politics, and “glocal” youth cultures of the second part of the twentieth century. Daisy Herrera's presentation will explore the ethnic solidarity between student organizations in greater Los Angeles and Mexico during the momentous months of 1968. By examining archival sources and oral histories from student activities, Herrera identifies the overlooked solidarity, modes of communication, and support that shaped the understanding of cross-border ethnic belonging and movement building between participants within Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) and students’ activists within the Consejo Nacional de Huelga (CNH) in Mexico City. Most significantly, Herrera sheds light to the cross-border response and legacies to the impactful events such as LA’s Blowouts in March and Mexico’s Tlatelolco massacre in October of that year. Sergio Maldonado approaches the U.S.-Mexico diplomatic relations of the 1970s to ponder how these seemingly top-down international negotiations about shared natural resources were influenced by electoral politics, which in Richard Nixon’s calculation began to include Mexican American voters in the electoral coalition equation. By analyzing Mexican and American sources from the 1970s, Maldonado demonstrates how the intersectionality of the environment, state authority, international relations, and American electoral politics played a role in resolving the Colorado River salinity crisis of the 1970s that affected water usage in U.S. and Mexican regions sharing the Colorado water. Eliana Buenrostro’s focus includes cultural expressions in songs and oral histories to examine how Chicano and Mexican punk rockers and artists contested American societal and migratory exclusions in the 1970s and 1980s. By placing this “glocal” study at the rise of punk rock as a music genre embraced by working-class youth in U.S. Mexican-American neighborhoods and poverty-stricken districts in the outskirts of Mexico City, Buenrostro engages in an intersectional analysis of bi-cultural and hemispheric politics of the increased urban migration from Mexico during the “age of mass expulsion,” enacted by the U.S. in the aforementioned decades. Most importantly, Buenrostro’s presentation will demonstrate how the histories of Chicano and Mexican punk rock shed light on how youth sought to address and overcome deportation, policing, gang violence, and poverty while creating bridges of transborder solidarity. Incorporated together these presentations seek to expand the historical study, methodological toolkit, and scope of the Ethnic Mexican historical experience through transborder and hemispheric lenses.
"Destined to Fuck Up": Los Illegals, Chicano Punk, and the Immigration Politics and Art of 1980s Los Angeles
Within the work of Los Angeles based Chicanx punk artists of the 1970s and 1980s, Los Illegals contested the politics of anti-immigrant policies of the time. They signaled how the United States national and local politics policed, surveilled, and depicted Mexicans as a criminal and undesirable element in American society. The current paper places the history of Los Illegals within and against the often White-centric framework of punk music studies that has largely been deaf to subaltern experiences of punks of color. Moreover, through oral history interviews with co-founders Willie Herrón and Jesus Velo, my paper engages in an intersectional analysis of bi-cultural politics at the border as experienced by Chicano “pochos.” The context of the “age of mass expulsion” serves as a backdrop that complicates Chicano youth’s coming-of-age as misfits “destined to fuck up” in both the eyes and ears of both White punk and Mexican cultural mainstreams.
Eliana Buenrostro, University of California, Riverside—Ethnic Studies Department
The Echeverría-Nixon Quid Pro Quo: The Mexicali Salinity Crisis and the American Presidential Election of 1972
The history of modern Mexico is, in many ways, a story of protracted agricultural and political issues. The Colorado River salinity crisis of the 1970s holds particular importance amongst these events not only for Mexican history, but for histories pertaining to American electoral politics. The dynamics of this crisis were not always obvious. On the surface, the crisis appeared as a localized international relations issue between the United States and Mexico. While this does hold true, a deeper analysis reveals a complexity that intertwined the inability for the Mexican federal authorities to exert tenable control over its natural resources with Richard Nixon’s presidential aspirations that led to a resolution. To demonstrate how the intersectionality of the environment, state authority, international relations, and American electoral politics played a role in the resolution of the Colorado River salinity crisis, the research conducted analyzes the myriad of ways in which the Mexican federal authorities responded to the mounting pressure to address the increasing salt levels in Mexicali. It will demonstrate that because the ruling party of Mexico, the Partido Revolucionario Institucional, could not exert control over access to fresh water in Baja California, it allowed foreign interests to propose potential resolutions to the crisis, prompting the Mexican federal authorities to seek out unconventional means of negotiating with the United States.
Sergio Maldonado, University of California, Riverside—History Department
“¡Hermanas/os Unidos en la Lucha!” Transnational Student Solidarity between Chicanos in Greater Los Angeles and Mexicans in Mexico During the Social Unrests of 1968
Too often scholars approach the study of social movements and solidarity within a geographical space within borders. When approaching the social unrests of 1968 throughout the Global North and South, studies are generally limited to the transnational influence or basic acts of solidarity (i.e. public acknowledgement and solidarity) and overlook the deeper grasps of solidarity, communication, and support that shaped the understanding of cross-border ethnic belonging and movement building. Experiencing similar government and educational oppression, these student organizations created lines of communication to share experiences and extend support. Using archival research and oral histories, this research paper will explore the ethnic solidarity between student organizations in greater Los Angeles and in Mexico. It will also explore the correlation between both movement’s positionality and importance within their nation and beyond, and discuss organizing methods, strategies, and goals, and the cross-border response to impactful events such as LA’s Blowouts and Mexico’s Tlatelolco massacre. By engaging in new directions in the study of social movements and solidarity, historians can uncover the transnational conversations and understandings that provide counternarratives to the governments’ “official” statements and misleading media depictions of their movements, demands, and political repression that impacted large-scale student movements. But most importantly, the historiography of the 1960s Chicana/o Movement and/or overall Civil Rights Movements can be expanded by exploring an ethnic belonging, emergence of a transnational Chicana/o radicalism, and struggle for civil rights in a greater space that holds historical and symbolic meaning to Mexican-ethnic students across national borders.
Daisy Herrera, University of California, Riverside—History Department
Chair: Jorge N. Leal, Mexican American History, Department of History, UC Riverside
Jorge N. Leal is an assistant professor of History at the University of California, Riverside. He is a cultural and urban historian of the ethnic Mexican and Latinx experience in Southern California. Dr. Leal’s research focuses on how youth culture producers and participants have reshaped the urban space and advocated for more expansive notions of belonging in the transnational Latina/o/x communities in Southern California. Dr. Leal’s writings have been published in several anthologies and journals such as the European Journal of American Culture, the Journal of American Ethnic History, the Journal of California History among other academic publications.
As a public historian Dr. Leal is the curator of The Rock Archivo LÁ, a public history repository that collects, shares, and examines Latina/o/x youth cultures ephemera. He is also the 2022-2024 recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant for the project, “Spanglish and Bilingualism in Latinx Studies,” with which he is co-developing new bilingual pedagogical approaches into Latina/o/x studies and humanities courses. Currently he is working on a book manuscript tentatively entitled, “More than Ruido: Young Latina/o Ingenuity, Sound, and Solidarity in Late Twentieth Century Los Ángeles.”
Presenter: Eliana Buenrostro, University of California, Riverside—Ethnic Studies Department
Eliana Buenrostro is a doctoral student in the Ethnic Studies program at the University of California, Riverside. She received her M.A. in Latin American and Latino Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2020. Her M.A. paper entitled “Destined to Fuck Up: Los Illegals, Chicano Punk and the Immigration Politics and Art of 1980s Los Angeles” uses oral history to recount the activist cultural production of the Chicano punk band Los Illegals, during a period of mass deportations in the United States. Her current research continues to explore the relationship between punk music and immigration.
Presenter: Daisy Herrera, University of California, Riverside—History Department
Daisy R. Herrera is a Ph.D. student in the History Department at the University of California, Riverside. Her research focuses on the Mexican American and Chicano experience in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley related to the intersectionality of race, class, gender, and labor. Of interest is how Mexican migrant labor and the Chicana/o Movement shaped the area’s social, cultural, and political direction in the twentieth century. Her academic training and interdisciplinary interests are in History, Women’s Studies, Chicano Studies, and Latin American Studies while working in public and oral history settings. She is a committee member for the Oral History Association (OHA), the Historical Society of Southern California (HSSC), and is a board member for the Southwest Oral History Association (SOHA), the San Fernando Valley Historical Society (SFVHS), and Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social (MALCS).
Presenter: Sergio Maldonado, University of California, Riverside—History Department
Sergio's research focuses on the politics of Mexico in the twentieth century. He is particularly interested in Mexico’s international relations with Latin America and the United States during the Cold War, exile communities, and the environmental politics of the 1970s. Sergio received his BA and MA from California State University, Los Angeles. He is currently a graduate student in the History Department at UC Riverside.
Commentator: Luis Sánchez-López, University of California, Los Angeles
Dr. Sánchez-López (Zapotec) received a Ph.D. in History from the University of California, San Diego and is currently a UC President’s Postdoctoral fellow in the Anthropology Department at UCLA. He is a member of the Critical Latinx Indigeneities Working Group and is a co-founder of the Oaxacan College Initiative, a community-based project that provides mentorship and support for Oaxacan students pursuing higher education.
Dr. Sánchez-López’s research interests include race, Indigeneity, settler colonialism, customary law, autonomy, and social movements. He is currently working on his first book, The Value of Native Bodies: Settler Capitalism and the Logic of Elimination in Oaxaca, which is under contract with University of Arizona Press (Critical Issues in Indigenous Studies Series).
Dr. Luis Sánchez-López is a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA and will begin his appointment as assistant professor in the Chicano/Latino Studies Department at UC Irvine in Fall 2023.