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Fronteras Extra: Chicana Movidas - 'We Did Not Have A Lot Of History Books About Chicanas'


Chicanas Movidas: New Narratives of Activism and Feminism in the Movement Era is a collection of essays written by Chicana scholars and activists about Chicanas who organized and resisted during the Chicano Movement.

Credit Chris Stranad
Maria Eugenia Cotera

Dionne Espinoza, Maylei Blackwell, and Maria Eugenia Cotera edited the book.

Cotera, an associate professor of American Studies and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan, notes that in writing their essays, many of the contributors to the volume had to build their archive from the ground up because currently there are so few institutional collections that focus on Chicanas.

“It's one of the reasons why we did not have a lot of history books about Chicanas,” Cotera said.

Her contribution to the volume focuses on a digital archive that she has been working on with Linda Garcia Merchant since 2009, Chicana Por Mi Raza, a project that seeks to address the archival invisibility of Chicanas by “talking to mujeres, scanning their materials and digitizing them and cataloguing them, organizing them in a central repository so we can have those images” for future research.

In fact, several of the essays in Chicana Movidas draw from this digital archive.

She notes that like Chicana por mi Raza, Chicana Movidas is a “multigenerational collaboration ... the kind of collaboration that Norma Cantú and other Chicana scholars did in the 1980s, which is still fundamental in creating organizations that support Chicana scholarship.”

Cotera talks about expanding the archive of Chicana scholars.

Cotera has plans to create a digital storytelling project around the women featured in the book. “We can reach a very broad audience if we have sites dedicated to folks like Alicia Escalante, Anna Nieto-Gómez, Martha Cotera, where they can weave their stories in with the documentary evidence of their activities.”

She said the Chicana Por Mi Raza digital storytelling project still has room to expand, and they next hope “to interview those women like Norma Cantú and many others who were involved in establishing feminist studies in the academy. And that story, nobody's really written about it and it has to be told.”  

Norma Martinez can be reached by email at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter @NormDog1. Lauren Terrazas can be reached by email at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter @terrazas_lauren.

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1
Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter at @terrazas_lauren