“Space, Identity, and Revolt: Chicanos Unidos Para Justicia, La Escuela Antonio José Martínez, and the Chicana/o Insurgency in New Mexico, 1973-1975”
This paper examines the Chicana/o movement by focusing on Chicanos Unidos Para Justicia (CUPJ), an insurgent organization founded in Las Vegas, New Mexico. In 1973, CUPJ captured media headlines following its takeover of the historic Montezuma Castle, originally a symbol of Nuevomexicana/o subordination. At the site, CUPJ established La Escuela Antonio José Martínez (Escuela AJM), an alternative school that sought to utilize the realm of teaching to forge a positive ethnic identity in New Mexico and transform Nuevomexicana/os into Chicana/os. CUPJ viewed Montezuma Castle as a space of power that represented cultural and social capital for the residents of the region. Given the symbolic meaning attached to Montezuma Castle, CUPJ attempted to utilize the location as a base to claim greater power and to legitimize their alternative vision of the Chicana/o community. CUPJ’s efforts reveal that spatial meaning and identity formation are intimately connected and that subjectivities can be formed and contextualized within newly created spaces. Ultimately, this paper argues that the Chicana/o movement was a fundamental site of ethnic remaking in New Mexico.
"Brown Legs are Beautiful Too!”: Sporting Movidas and Civil Rights in South Texas, 1968-1970
On December 9, 1969, students from Crystal City High, a majority Mexican American high school, walked out in response to unequal treatment on the playing fields, as they marched out of their classrooms holding signs that read, “Brown Legs Are Beautiful Too, We Demand Chicana Cheerleaders.” For years, school administrators handpicked the cheerleading squad, resulting in the selection of one Mexican American girl to the four-member squad. Cheerleading squads thus became a site for the struggle over representational power. Students in Crystal City joined the thousands of Mexican American students who walked out of classrooms in protest of racist school policies and poor learning conditions across the Southwest. This paper examines the often-overlooked ways in which Chicana/o youth used athletic spaces to launch their pursuit of self-determination. The experiences of Chicana cheerleaders illustrate how Mexican American communities of South Texas organized grass-root political networks, interrogated understandings of womanhood, and contributed to the broader pursuits of The Chicana/o Movement.
Respondent: Lorena Oropeza, University of California, Berkeley
This event is free, but all participants must register in advance and space is limited. To register and request a copy of the pre-circulated paper, click below. Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.
About the Borderlands and Latino/a Studies Seminar Series
The Newberry Borderlands and Latino/a Studies Seminar provides a forum for works-in-progress from scholars and graduate students that explore a variety of topics in the field. Seminars are conversational and free and open to faculty, graduate students, and members of the public, who register in advance to request papers.