Monthly Archives: August 2012

Corrido de Norma Cantú

By Rita Urquijo-Ruiz and David Garcia Video by Larissa Mercado-Lopez August 31, 2012, is the last day that renowned Chicana, feminist scholar Dr. Norma E. Cantú will be at the University of Texas, San Antonio’s English Department. To honor her work, Dr. Larissa Mercado-López (one of her former students) led a group of volunteers who organized an amazing mini-symposium on the life and work of Dr. Cantú. Other Chicana scholars and some of Dr. Cantú’s former students presented papers highlighting the multi-faceted aspects of Cantú’s work. As part of the panel on “Chicana Literary Expressions,” David F. García, and Dr. Rita E. Urquijo-Ruiz collaborated by writing her a corrido entitled “Destino al andar.” The day closed with an after party at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center co-organized by another one of Dr. Cantú’s former students, Dr. V. June Pedraza, and Dr. Antonia I. Castañeda, Dr. Elsa Cantú Ruiz and another group of volunteers. People visited from all over the country to honor and thank Dr. Norma E. Cantú for all the work, passion and love that she has shared with thousands of people in her communities. This corrido is just a little “regalito” for her. Mil gracias, Norma! De todo corazón.

Written and performed by Rita E. Urquijo-Ruiz and David Garcia at UT San Antonio on Friday, August 24.  Video by conference organizer Larissa Mercado-Lopez.

Al empezar a cantar
Pedimos permiso ahora
Para rendir homenaje
A una ilustre doctora.Ella es de la frontera
En los dos Laredos criada
Chicana de tal carrera
Por todos muy apreciada

Norma Cantú es su nombre
Y le vengo a saludar
Le brindo mi canto alegre
Un regalo musical

Es persona de renombre
Con buen don de la palabra
Maestra en todo sentido
En cualquier lengua que habla.

Esta doctora sí cura
Con esa pluma en la mano
Escribe de la cultura
De chicanas y chicanos

Para ayudar a estudiantes
Nunca nadie la mejora
Todos ellos son brillantes
Es la ideal profesora

Escribe nuevas historias
Que hablan del feminismo.
Y con una pluma zurda
De un pájaro fronterizo

Brindamos a la maestro
En el lindo San Antonio
Por la cultura tejana
Sigue dando testimonio

Al andar se hace el destino
Por donde no hubo ni huella
Peregrina de caminos
Yo le saludo, ¡Ultreya!

Vuela, vuela golondrina
Por el cielo tan azul
Protege a nuestra madrina
La profesora Cantú

¡Viva la Dra. Norma Cantú!

As we begin singing
We now ask for your permission
To pay tribute
To an illustrious doctorShe is from the border
Raised in the two Laredos
A Chicana with such a career
Respected by everyone

Norma Cantú is her name
And I come here to salute her
I offer her my happy song
A musical gift

She is a renowned person
Gifted with words
Knowledgeable in every sense
In any language she speaks

This doctor does cure
With her pen in her hand
She writes about
Chicana and Chicano cultures

At working with students
No one can be better
They are all brilliant
Because she’s the ideal professor

She writes about new (hi)stories
That speak of feminisms
And with the left-handed plume
From a borderlands bird

We toast our teacher
In our beautiful San Antonio
She continues to give testimony
On Chicana/o culture

Destiny is created as we walk
Where there wasn’t a footprint
Pilgrim of the roads
I salute you, “-Go forth!

Fly, fly away, swallow
Throughout the deep blue sky
Protect our godmother
Professor Cantú

¡Viva la Dra. Norma Cantú!

Dr. Rita E. Urquijo-Ruiz is a professor of Spanish and Transnational Mexican Popular Cultures at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX. Her book entitled Wild Tongues: Transnational Mexican Popular Culture was published in July 2012 in the UT Press Chicana Matters Series.   David Garcia is a musician/composer of Chicano/Mexican music from northern New Mexico. He is a Queer Xicano/Manito anthropologist who studies popular culture, foodways and the production of public space. Garcia is currently a Ph.D. student in the in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin.

Learning from Mexican and Native Women

August 20, 2012

Photo Credit: Pepe Rivera. Taken June 26, 2011. From Flickr.

Photo Credit: Pepe Rivera. Taken June 26, 2011. From Flickr.

By Theresa Delgadillo

Yesterday, as I continued my work on translating an oral history interview from Spanish into English, I was struck by something that this particular participant in the project said – as I often am in this work. I’ve had the honor of interviewing some very wise and determined Latinas in the project that I began in 2008 to collect the oral histories of Latina leaders in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. These are some very interesting women! Fortunately, I am near the end of the editing and looking forward to sending it off the publisher soon. To get back to my point: my interviewee, commenting on the social customs of Mexico and the U.S., says at one point, “There it is the same as here, exactly the same as here. The only difference is that there is still a fiction that in Mexico it’s different.” She was talking about the acceptability of divorce, but it resonated with me on other levels, such as the changes in daily life, work and environment, partially because there was some interesting news from Mexico recently in the The New York Times about a group of indigenous women in Cherán, Michoacoán, who mobilized against armed illegal loggers and are now defending their town from violence and their forest from deforestation. To readers of Latina/o literatures, or literature about migration, the name Cherán might be familiar, since it was one of the sites of migration to the U.S. portrayed in Ruben Martinez’s Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail(2001). The August 2, 2012 article by Karla Zabludovsky titled “Reclaiming the Forests and the Right to Feel Safe,” describes the events in Cherán and the women’s actions as “extraordinary” as it details their effectiveness. Motivated in part by the loss of the beautiful forest that was once their patrimony, a loss that must be visible to them on a daily basis, the women see themselves acting not only for themselves but for future generations. When I read it, I wondered, and not for the first time, if Luis Urrea’s novelInto the Beautiful North (2009) hadn’t come to life – because this is not the first instance in recent years of Mexican women taking the lead to end violence and environmental destruction. Meanwhile, New York State is set to join the ranks of states allowing fracking. In an August 19, 2012 CBS News Report, “New York State to Allow Fracking,” Jeff Glor’s article notes that the process of fracking releases dangerous contaminants that have high potential to endanger air and water supplies, yet quotes local farmers who need the money. The women of Cherán, Michoacán, also need money to live and they are supported in part, according to the article, by remittances from residents who have migrated to the U.S., yet it seems they are living in the aftermath of a disastrous environmental decision and working to make it right. Like the people of Cherán, Michoacán, Mexico, we face some very difficult decisions in these energy-gobbling times, and we might consider what we can productively learn through a comparative perspective that doesn’t consign indigenous women to a lost past, but instead examines the experience of both residents and migrants from particular regions about what doesn’t work – because as my interviewee says: “There it is the same as here, exactly the same as here. The only difference is that there is still a fiction that in Mexico it’s different.”

Theresa Delgadillo is on the faculty at Ohio State University.

  1. María Antonietta Berriozábal  August 20, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    Dear Theresa:

    I find your work fascinating. I am a lover of oral history. Next month my book, María, Daughter of Immigrants, will be published. The first chapters include the stories that my parents told me as a child. With just their stories – no genealogical searches for me – I was able to share the story of my great grand mother and grandparents going back one hundred years. That is rather astounding. To think that these women can share a story, you chronicle them and one hundred years from now someone will be sharing them.

    Another reason for my interest in your work is that in 1995 I attended the Fourth World Conference on Women in China as a member of the US delegation. During the conference I met with women from Central America and some from Peru. Some could not even speak Spanish. They spoke their native dialects, but they had leaders who had learned Spanish and they were our interpreters. One of the reasons they had gone to the Beigjing conference, through great sacrifice, was to tell their stories of how their ancestral lands were being taken by businesses. It is the same story that continues to this day of multi-national corporations raping the environment in other countries so they can provide goods and food for the developed countries like the US and others. But the women were fighting; they were organizing and using their voices. I found it interesting that the leaders of the movements, at least of the ones I met, were mujeres. They wore their colorful clothing almost as the shield of warriors.

    In any event, I appreciate what you are doing very much.


    María Antonietta Berriozábal
    San Antonio, Texas

  2. Theresa (Mujeres Talk Co-Moderator)  August 20, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    Dear María Antonietta,

    I am looking forward to reading the preview of your book that appeared in Frontiers, and to your new book. Please send us an announcement for it as soon as it appears. My project was motivated, too, by the desire to record and share the life stories of Latinas whose experiences don’t appear elsewhere.

    Research in the U.S. has shown that indigenous migrants to the U.S. from Latin America often face difficulties precisely because of the language assumptions that you noted in your experience. Despite language differences, we are all struggling with the same difficult questions about how we use our natural resources.

    Thank you so much for your comments and encouragement, and thank you for sharing your work.

    Take care, Theresa

  3. Lourdes Alberto  August 28, 2012 at 8:31 PM

    In reading this post I am reminded that indigenous people think of themselves as planetary citizens–they fight for their people, their cultures, their history, but also all of our well-being and that of future generations.
    As an indigenous person myself (Oaxaqueña), I struggle with my own part in the depletion of the Earth’s natural resources.
    You know, three seasons ago I started growing a garden with the goal of eventually meeting all of my family’s summertime food needs. It was so fulfilling, so liberating, so unexpected. I know now that my challenge is to remember and live the knowledge my grandparents left me about the land, about plants and about the importance of well-being. As you mentioned, there are tens of thousands of indigenous people from Latin America in CA. Growing up we had an informal plant co-op/exchange. Someone would manage to bring over a plant, flower, hierba, from Oaxaca and we would literally share cuttings–yerba santa, varieties of avocado, ruda. It was amazing! A kind of urban indigenous transnational environmentalism!

  4. Theresa (Mujeres Talk Co-Moderator)  September 3, 2012 at 5:25 AM

    Dear Lourdes,

    It’s good to hear from those that grow gardens for sustainability, and I appreciate the work you’ve put into this important task for three seasons, which, as you say, is a combination of memory work, and living a connection to others and growing food. Thank you for your beautiful note!

    Take care, Theresa

A Fotonovela on Predatory Lending

August 13, 2012 By LeighAnna Hidalgo During my undergraduate years at Arizona State University I worked on a diverse range of research projects for the South Phoenix Collaborative, studying current and historic risk factors such as migrant status, poor quality of neighborhood amenities, lack of access to affordable healthcare and healthy food, and erratic income. My commitment to South Mountain families led me to become a politically active researcher in solidarity with the segments of the community most affected by anti-immigrant legislation. I became painfully aware of the differential socio-spatial distribution of banks and predatory lenders in Phoenix area urban spaces. Under the tutelage of Dr. Seline Szkupinski Quiroga, I undertook a historical and spatial analysis on the access to credit and finance in South Phoenix for an undergraduate seminar class. This work demonstrated how space in the city is constructed and functions to produce economic and social inequality. After graduating from ASU, I entered the Applied Anthropology Masters of Arts program at California State University Long Beach (CSULB). While there, I expanded on my undergraduate thesis research on fringe financial services and followed my principle of democratizing anthropology by designing a multimedia interactive fotonovela using maps generated from GIS, archival and contemporary photographs, and video taped interviews in order to make my research knowledge accessible to the public and provoke dialogue on salient economic and immigration issues. My fotonovela comes from the tradition of rasquachismo,relying on resourcefulness to learn ‘just enough, but not too much’ GIS & Final Cut Pro and repurposing and reinventing western technologies like YouTube and Calameo from their original intent or function into a creative improvisation. My next goal is to recreate this fotonovela in Spanish and make it available for illiterate Spanish speaking populations. Currently I am experimenting with a printed version of the fotonovela with embedded videos procurable for those with smart phones. This fotonovela has been requested by ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy, it has been presented in undergraduate level courses at ASU and CSULB, and in the future I hope to share it with the civil rights and advocacy organization Arizona Hispanic Community Forum. [calameo code=000553314fbaac851f9af width=420 height=272] LeighAnna Hidalgo is a first year Ph.D. student at UCLA Cesar E. Chavez Department of Chicana/o Studies. This is her fourth year as a MALCSista. Comment(s):

  1. Sara Ramirez  August 14, 2012 at 10:20 AM Wow! This is a fierce project can certainly bring attention to systemic reproductions of economic inequality. I appreciate LeighAnna’s care and thoughtfulness to provide access to those who don’t have computers and/or smartphones as well as those who can’t read. I’m super excited that I’m part of a generation of Chicana/Latina thinkers who understand the value of multi-media to effect change.I wonder in what other ways today’s generation of Latina/o feminist dissertators can make our work accessible to those subjects about whom we write.Best of luck to you, LeighAnna. I’m in your cheering section!
  2. La Chica Mas Fina  August 14, 2012 at 3:29 PM Thank you very much for your thoughtful and encouraging comment Sara Ramirez! I really appreciate it! Auto-title loans and the predatory nature of these businesses is something that affected my family and me personally when I was a chamaca. I too am very excited by the possibility of multi-media for effecting change and I hope that more Chican@s will start to think about how we can start democratizing our research, so that it truly serves the communities where we come from. Writing an article or a thesis is not enough when what we want is justice for our communities! Not only does it benefit our communities when we work hard to create accessible research, but it also benefits us as researchers to be humbled, to remember our own humanity, and give back to the places that raised us.
  3. Theresa (Mujeres Talk Co-Moderator)  August 14, 2012 at 1:03 PM LeighAnna, Thank you for sharing this careful work in interviewing community residents and collecting and analyzing data to show trends in financial services available to minority communities. Hope this finds many, many readers! A few years back there was a campaign here in Ohio to limit the amount that payday lenders could charge in interest which I believe was successful, but your research points to a deeper problem of inequalities in financial services more broadly.
  4. Sandra D. Garza   August 15, 2012 at 8:09 PM I love this Fotonovela! What a creative use of technology! Have you thought about submitting some of your written work to the MALCS journal?
  5. La Chica Mas Fina  August 16, 2012 at 11:13 AM Thank you Dr Delgadillo! Thats great to hear about the law that passed in Ohio. In Arizona a law passed in the summer of 2010 making payday lending illegal, but since then all the payday loan places turned into auto-title loan or income-tax loan outlets. My data was collected before this change occurred, so I would like to do a re-study to reflect all these changes. You are right that there is a deeper problem of inequalities that allow these financial service disparities to continue multiplying and mutating and I am glad that was clear in my fotonovela. Gracias for letting me share my work. -LeighAnna Hidalgo
  6. Theresa (Mujeres Talk Co-Moderator)  August 16, 2012 at 4:36 PM Yes! The same thing happened here: they morphed into other “financial services” that weren’t covered by the changed legislation. I wonder if banks that got bailout money could be required to provide services in low-income areas?
  7. Theresa (Mujeres Talk Co-Moderator)  August 17, 2012 at 12:49 PM I agree with Sandra, too, the Chicana/Latina Studies Journal will be a great venue for dissemination of your research work!
  8. Monica Russel y Rodriguez August 23, 2012 at 1:03 PM LeighAnna, Thank you for sharing your excellent work with us. I find the nature of your work and the mode of communication fierce indeed. I am so encouraged by the possibility of a broad readership here. That is to say, getting our research into the hands of people who can use the information powerfully. Additionally, I am encouraged by the possibilities of moving away from the narrowly constructed essay. Your work and this blog (props to Theresa!) move us in a better direction.
  9. La Chica Mas Fina   November 12, 2012 at 12:29 PM Monica Russel y Rodriguez, Thank you so much for your encouragement! I apologize for responding so late to your message. I am only now seeing it. I am very excited about the possibilities of using this digital fotonovela methodology in my other research projects, specifically my work with taco vendors in Arizona. As you say, these methodologies can allow us to “get our research into the hands of people who can use the information powerfully”. Exactly! Gracias por tu apoyo!
  10. Alicia Gaspar de Alba   November 6, 2012 at 11:40 AM LeighAna, I think this would make a fascinating subject for a lecture in 10A, and hence your final paper in 200. Let me just clarify, however, that the name of our department is the Cesar E. Chavez Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies. We do not have Latina/o Studies in our title, and we are very proud of the Chavez name. Profe Gaspar de Alba
  11. La Chica Mas Fina  November 12, 2012 at 12:21 PM Thank you Dr. Gaspar de Alba for reading and commenting on the digital fotonovela and for welcoming me into the Cesar E. Chavez Department of Chicana/o Studies program. I really value your work and look forward to incorporating the Alter-Native perspective into my final paper. Gracias!