Knowledge and Memory in Chicana/o and Latinx Digital Humanities

Resistencia: Positioning Knowledge and Agency through US Latino Digital Humanities

This panel reconfigures modes of knowledge production in relation to Anglophone studies where US Latinx-related works are often disregarded, erased, misrepresented, and misused. Not only are such works overlooked, but their producers–who often identify as non-white and/or not along heteronormative identities, and write in languages other than standard English–are not considered legitimate within the academy. Specifically, we will discuss the ways in which critical interventions can take place at pedagogical and research levels. Isis Campos will present the Authority List, a project that highlights the authorship found in US Latinx periodicals in the United States through 1960. This presentation will describe the development of the project until its current stage of network analysis and directory. Through a variety of writers from different nationalities and backgrounds the project aims to defy general norms by establishing and documenting the Latinx presence and community that existed and exists in this nation. By analyzing these voices and giving them a platform to reach a broader audience, the Authority List looks to break down societal barriers highlighting the complexity of the writers represented in the newspapers and the community that they built. Lorena Gauthereau will present on the projects developed out of the Alonso S. Perales Collection, which highlight Mexican American civil rights activism in the 1940-50s. She argues that a DH methodology, rooted in Chicana and Third World feminisms, acknowledges the affect embedded in US Latinx archives and accounts for the lived experience of US Latinx histories. This approach, Gauthereau contends, unveils not only the trauma of coloniality, but also the processes of community survival and joy. Carolina Villarroel will present on US Latinx approaches to digital pedagogy and the work done by the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Program to engage the educational community in general to create instances for inclusion. These instances emanate from US Latinx narratives and include diverse corpus of materials. The presentation will touch on specifics about the acquisition and processing of collections, and metadata creation that have an impact in their future usage in pedagogical tools. Ultimately, Recovery seeks to find ways in which these materials can be incorporated into the bigger spectrum of American Studies. Gabriela Baeza Ventura will discuss how the use of intersectional analysis in DH scholarship allows minority communities to break through the barriers that seek to place them and their narratives on the outskirts of knowledge production. She will discuss how in the process of establishing the first center for US Latinx Digital Humanities at the University of Houston, the community of DHers who have crafted projects grounded in ethnic, socioecomonic, gender, racial and postcolonial perspectives that intend to populate the world of digital scholarship with voices that are nontraditional and not always in English. This presentation is in Spanish.

Gabriela Baeza Ventura (University of Houston)
Isis Campos (University of Houston)
Lorena Gauthereau (University of Houston)
Carolina Villarroel (University of Houston)

Digitizing and Uncovering the West Texas Chicana/o Civil Rights Movement

Chicana/o Activism in the Southern Plains Through Time and Space, a digital history project displayed at Constructed using Omega and Neatline, this project operates as a platform through which both scholars and the wider public can find an interactive map and timeline along with an online collection of materials regarding the Texas plains (or West Texas) Chicana/o Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Importantly, the project’s timeline reveals how and why the Chicana/o Movement emerged in West Texas. The earliest events that are clearly part of the movement were student led and aimed at attaining educational equity. The time frame of the West Texas Chicana/o student movement coincided with global student uprisings that spanned Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Moreover, the first national meeting of El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (The Chicano Student Movement of Aztlán) was hosted by Texas Tech University atavists in the middle of the plains in 1971. The meeting indicates that the plains’ students were leaders within the larger Chicana/o Movement. They were active in bringing together the far-flung, localized student wing of the Chicana/o Movement. However, the digital history project reveals that instances of police brutality were the principal events that spurred the plains’ Chicana/o Movement. The most active years in regards to protests by a wide range of the region’s Mexican population were precisely the years when the most cases of police killings of ethnic Mexican men occurred. Instances of police brutality united the region’s Mexican population across political ideology. More mainstream social justice organizations like the American G.I. Forum, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the League of United Latin American Citizens joined Chicana/o activists, especially the Brown Berets, in protests across the Southern Plains. On the plains, Nick Hernández, a leader of the Odessa, Texas Brown Berets that participated in Chicana/o Movement throughout the Southern Plains, noted that his hometown’s anti-police brutality wave of activism “turned this city around, I mean it just went from A to Z…you know…everything....Hispanics started getting some respect, harassment slowed down. There is still a lot of it out there, but it’s not like it used to be.” The project centers around an approachable interactive map and timeline along with a curated collection of materials. Therefore, the project provides a digital museum experience that has not emerged within the region’s museums. The project adds to both scholarly and socially significant conversations, showing that the region was home to a burgeoning wing of the Chicana/o Movement and that instances of police brutality largely spurred this wing of the social justice movement. Moreover, the curated collection of materials demonstrates that police brutality united the plains’ Mexican population across political ideology, a largely overlooked aspect within the study of Mexican American civil rights movements. Such a finding can be of use today since contemporary Latina/o social justice organizations generally ignore policing issues even amid a rise in the national awareness regarding police abuse.

Joel Zapata (Southern Methodist University)