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Fronteras Extra: Chicana Movidas - 'We Did Not Have A Lot Of History Books About Chicanas'

Chicanas Movidas: New Narratives of Activism and Feminism in the Movement Era is a collection of essays written by Chicana scholars and activists about Chicanas who organized and resisted during the Chicano Movement.

Maria Eugenia Cotera
Credit Chris Stranad
Maria Eugenia Cotera

Dionne Espinoza, Maylei Blackwell, and Maria Eugenia Cotera edited the book. Cotera, an associate professor of American Studies and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan, notes that in writing their essays, many of the contributors to the volume had to build their archive from the ground up because currently there are so few institutional collections that focus on Chicanas.

“It's one of the reasons why we did not have a lot of history books about Chicanas,” Cotera said.

Her contribution to the volume focuses on a digital archive that she has been working on with Linda Garcia Merchant since 2009, Chicana Por Mi Raza, a project that seeks to address the archival invisibility of Chicanas by “talking to mujeres, scanning their materials and digitizing them and cataloguing them, organizing them in a central repository so we can have those images” for future research.

In fact, several of the essays in Chicana Movidas draw from this digital archive.

She notes that like Chicana por mi Raza, Chicana Movidas is a “multigenerational collaboration ... the kind of collaboration that Norma Cantú and other Chicana scholars did in the 1980s, which is still fundamental in creating organizations that support Chicana scholarship.”

Cotera talks about expanding the archive of Chicana scholars.

Cotera has plans to create a digital storytelling project around the women featured in the book. “We can reach a very broad audience if we have sites dedicated to folks like Alicia Escalante, Anna Nieto-Gómez, Martha Cotera, where they can weave their stories in with the documentary evidence of their activities.”

She said the Chicana Por Mi Raza digital storytelling project still has room to expand, and they next hope “to interview those women like Norma Cantú and many others who were involved in establishing feminist studies in the academy. And that story, nobody's really written about it and it has to be told.”  

Fronteras Extra: Chicana Movidas - 'We Did Not Have A Lot Of History Books About Chicanas'

Norma Martinez can be reached by email at and on Twitter @NormDog1. Lauren Terrazas can be reached by email at and on Twitter @terrazas_lauren.

Copyright 2020 Texas Public Radio. To see more, visit Texas Public Radio.

Norma Martinez is a native of El Paso and a veteran of public broadcasting. She began volunteering at the El Paso public radio station KTEP as a college student in 1989. She spent a year as a Morning Edition host and reporter at KRWG-FM in Las Cruces, New Mexico, before returning to KTEP as a full-time employee in 1995. At KTEP, Norma served as Morning Edition host, chief announcer, Traffic Director, PSA Director, and host and producer of various local shows.
Lauren Terrazas is an El Paso native and produces "Morning Edition" and "Fronteras" for Texas Public Radio. She began her work in broadcasting as an intern at KTEP, El Paso’s public radio station. While at KTEP, she went to become a production assistant and then chief announcer for "Morning Edition."