Summer Nahuatl Brown Bag Series: "Nations, Nationalisms, and Indigenas: The Indian in the Chicano/a Revolutionary Imaginary"
This essay takes up the early political projects of the Chicano movement. “Nations,
Nationalisms, and Indígenas: The Indian in the Chicano/a Revolutionary Imaginary,”
serves as a point of entry for the discussion of indigeneity from the vantage point
of Chicana/o political identities. This opening chapter begins with the 1960s at the
height of the Chicano Movement during which Chicanos sought to re-discover and re-construct
their buried, lost, or, erased Indian ancestral pasts as part of a broader set of
anti-racist cultural practices. Early Chicano indigenist poetics borrowed rhetorical
strategies about race from Mexican nationalists writing at the turn of the twentieth
century. Mexican nationalist policies focused on indigenous people, targeting them
either for assimilation or containment through educational, land, and health reforms.
Mexican indigenismo was
crafting the meaning of “Indian” through a Eurocentric lens; it is this very kind of Mexican indigenismo that Zapotecs contest. Chicanos rooted their own revolutionary ideologies in such early, and fundamentally flawed, Mexican revolutionary nationalism. It is in this troublesome link, between Mexican indigenismo and Chicano revolutionary practices that I unearth to complicate the use of indigenism as the favored discursive strategy for revolution, colonial critique, and claims to citizenship.