Chicana, Chicano, Chican@, Chicanx

Self-naming is political, ideological, and resistant. “Chicano” remains thus inflected, true to its emergence in activist communities of the 1960s and 1970s to signify  self-determination,  working-class  origins,  and a critique of social relations of power. Although not entirely clear who first appropriated “Chicano” for this usage, it is generally accepted that at one time the word circulated in Mexican Spanish as a negative reference to the “lower classes.” Its appropriation by students and activists transformed it into an empowering alternative to “Mexican,” “Mexican American,” or “Hispanic.” To name oneself as “Chicana” or “Chicano” is to assert a gendered, racial, ethnic, class, and cultural identity in opposition to Anglo-American hegemony and state- sanctioned practices of representing people of Mexican descent in the United States. As it evokes the “radical” politics of cultural nationalism, “Chicano” stands against the institutionally normative “Hispanic,”  as well as the linguistically insistent “Latino” (Alcoff 2005). Always associated …

This essay may be found on page 32 of the printed volume.

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