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Seminar Reaffirms Relevance of Chicano Studies to Universities



The first day of discussion on the emerging history of the Chicano Movement during the 1960s and ‘70s will take place today in the “Chicano Power!” conference hosted by the department of Chicana and Chicano Studies.

Speakers from several universities nationwide will attend the event, including lecturers from institutions such as Duke University, Michigan State University and Arizona State University, which may be forced to remove its ethnic studies program due to Arizona state legislation. The event will include an opening lecture from history and Chican@ Studies professor Mario T. García, followed by a special panel to discuss the contributions of recent literary works to the field.

UCSB doctoral candidate Oliver Rosales, who is currently lecturing in American history at CSU Bakersfield, said the conference will disprove arguments discrediting ethnic studies in America.

“One of the attacks on ethnic studies is that it’s not ‘real’ research,” Rosales said. “I think that’s why this conference is great. It’s bringing together people who are doing real, empirical research and going to publish books on this topic.”

As one of the largest community empowerment movements in U.S. history, the Chicano Movement included massive organized protests concerning various social issues within the Chicano community.

García said the conference will present a number of historical perspectives on Chicano culture, including prized literary pieces, to highlight the movement’s triumphs, which currently receive less scholarly attention than they have in past years.

“The objective of this conference is to showcase the emerging literature on the Chicano Movement,” García said. “It’s a rediscovery of the historical importance of the movement.”

Professor of literature and director of the Chicano/a and Latino/a Arts and Humanities program at UC San Diego Jorge Mariscal will deliver a speech on community organizing in the context of recent cuts to ethnic studies in higher education and its implications on the present generation of students. According to Mariscal, much research conducted in the field is done by emerging activists.

“I think it’s always exciting to attend a conference with many young scholars,” Mariscal said. “Several of the panels are made up of younger investigators who have just published books or finished Ph.D. dissertations on Chicano Movement topics, so I think there will be a good exchange between senior scholars with the younger generation of scholars.”

Another objective of this conference, according to García, is to reveal the relationship between the Chicano Movement and concurrent civil rights movements.

Denison University history professor Lauren Araiza said she hopes the event’s technique of approaching relevant social issues from new angles will inspire new interest in Chicano studies.

“I want [audience members] to be surprised,” Araiza said. “I want them to come away with knowledge of the Chicano Movement that they haven’t thought of before — the kind of surprise that would translate to curiosity.”

Due to such events, the Chicano Movement will continue to grow once greater understanding of the subject is achieved, García said.

“Knowledge of the Chicano Movement is there and it’s increasing, and this conference will show that,” García said. “All of a sudden there’s been this explosion of interest in the Chicano Movement because it was a seminal moment in the Chicano [and] Latino experience.”

The conference will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the McCune Conference Room, Humanities and Social Sciences Building room 6020.

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