In about two weeks time SALSA Collective Co-Jefas Becky and Eilidh will be making a trip across the pond to present their papers on Latinidad at Temple University’s Annual James A. Barnes History Postgraduate Conference in Philadelphia.
Eilidh’s paper is entitled: “Tantamount to Treason”: Chicana protest murals
‘¡Chicano Primero!’, the slogan of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s, highlights the focus of the protest movement as one primarily concerned with identity. Whilst fighting for the rights of Mexican Americans, it neglected inequalities within its own communities by adhering to patriarchal social norms. The Chicana women involved were forced to fulfil gendered roles, such as cooking and typing, and silenced in meetings supposedly for the good of the movement. Yet many women sought to redress the balance and directly challenged their compadres.
The creation of Chicano Park in 1970 became an arena where Chicanas sought representation. In an act of defiance a group of Chicana artists painted a mural, Women Hold Up Half the Sky, without the permission of the male organisers. The reaction to this audacious act was one of outrage and Jose Montoya, an artist and member of the Parque committee, declared that their act was “tantamount to treason”. The 2012 refurbishment of the murals in Chicano Park, San Diego, will be used to explore the memories of those women who contributed to and participated in El Movimiento. Contrasting the artwork of male and female muralistos/as, this paper will discuss the complex experiences of women in the Chicano Movement.
Becky’s paper is entitled, ’19th Century Approaches to Americanization and the Lasting Implications for Latinos in the 21st Century’
Latinos currently make up the largest and fastest growing ethnic group within the United States and population trends suggest that, by 2050 the Latino population will constitute more than 130 million people. Spanish has become the second most common language spoken in the U.S with the number of Spanish speakers outnumbering all other minority languages put together. If these trends continue, the United States is set to become the largest Spanish speaking country in the world. This new demographic reality has galvanized the issue of national identity for the United States in ways very similar to that witnessed by the nineteenth century.
Much like today, the end of the nineteenth century witnessed a shift in the United States’ ethnic, racial and linguistic demographics. This increasing diversity resulted in wide public concern among American nationals who sought to redraw the boundaries of the American national identity through Americanization programs. Many of these programs viewed the English language as the most effective tool for imbuing nineteenth century immigrants with American culture. Consequently, the English language is often viewed as one of the main pillars of the American national identity. Its cultural dominance throughout American history however, is part of a more complicated nexus of race, ethnicity and the vestigial effects of cultural discrimination.
This paper therefore will discuss the ways in which Americans in the nineteenth century used the English language to define the process of Americanization, the ideological imperatives for doing so and the ways in which these policies and ideologies continues to draw the boundaries of the American national identity in the twenty-first century; and more specifically, discuss its impact on young bilingual Latino students in English Immersion Programs.