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1.3: New Directions in Chicanx and Latinx Studies

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    Frameworks: Intersectional, Transnational, and Relational 

    Chicanx and Latinx studies is a dynamic field that has evolved over time. While this field is not constricted to a singular framework or paradigm, it is meant to be rooted in the relationship between activist movements for racial justice, liberation, and interdisciplinary academic inquiry. Within the field, multiple marginalized scholars have worked to center the diversity of Chicanxs and Latinxs, and more work is needed. As discussed in Chapter 2: Identities, feminist and queer scholars have advocated changing the name from Chicano studies, which implies masculinity and men’s concerns as the norm, to Chicana studies, Chicana and Chicano studies, Chican@ studies, Chicanx studies, or other similar labels. These titles signal inclusion and respect for all genders and people, along with research guided by feminist praxis and jotería studies. 

    Similarly, Afro-Latinxs and Indigenous Latinx peoples have advocated having an expansive conceptualization of ethnicity and race that include complicating mestiza/o/x (multi-racial) identities, Indigenous cultures, traditions, tribal affiliation, and sovereignty, and diverse experiences of colorism, African/Black identity, and heritage. With an increasing Central American and Indigenous population in the United States, more representation of these communities is needed in Chicanx and Latinx studies, exemplified by the work being done at California State University, Northridge and University of California, Los Angeles in Chicanx and Central American Studies. With the growing number of Central American students in California, it is critical to also have their family and community realities represented with social action research. You will have the opportunity to explore specific intersectional topics further in Chapter 2: Identities, Chapter 4: Indigeneities, Chapter 5: Feminisms, and Chapter 6: Jotería Studies. In this book, we present the field of Chicanx and Latinx studies in a way that is inclusive as possible of these developments. We bring them together, along with other relevant scholarship in ethnic studies, through a framework that is intersectional, transnational, and relational. These frameworks are defined in the remainder of this section and explored in further detail in Chapter 3: History and Historiography.

    This idea is visualized in the artwork presented in Figure 1.3.1, “Somxs Muchxs” (“We are the Many”) by Fernando Martí. The poster demonstrates the unification of many diverse activists around a shared struggle, and it reminds us to consider the role of collective struggle.

    A poster showing a large crowd with fists raised under the night sky, with the caption, “Somxs Muchxs. We are the Many.”

    Figure 1.3.1:Somxs Muchxs” by Fernando Martí, Justseeds is licensed CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

    Intersectionality means analyzing the multiple identities and social systems that influence and shape individuals' and communities' experiences, including their relationship to power structures and institutions. In 1990 the term was coined by Black feminist legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw and represents the lived experiences of many women of color feminists and many generations of work that led to this intellectual term.21 It is a conceptual lens that allows for identifying the role of gender, sexuality, immigration status, Indigeneity, socio-economic background, ability status, age, religion, and other factors, in addition to race and ethnicity. This is also visualized in Figure 1.3.2, with a set of overlapping circles labeled with the numbers 1-12, which are listed as

    1. Race
    2. Ethnicity
    3. Gender Identity
    4. Class
    5. Language
    6. Religion
    7. Ability
    8. Sexuality
    9. Mental Health
    10. Age
    11. Education
    12. Body Size … and many more …

    The caption reads, “Intersectionality is a lens through which you can see where power comes and collides, where it locks and intersects. It is the acknowledgment that everyone has their own unique experiences of discrimination and privilege - Kimberle Crenshaw.”

    Recognizing these realities helps us more clearly understand how societal disparities are created and affect different groups. Importantly, they also inform more effective interventions, campaigns, and social movements that can address longstanding inequities. Historically, multiple marginalized voices have been excluded from key positions of power and decision-making spaces. Throughout the textbook, you will find contributions of diverse Latinx scholars guiding the perspectives and examples provided. Further, we utilize this inclusive approach to shed light on the creative strategies used to combat systemic inequities, racism, and settler colonialism.22

    A set of overlapping circles is labeled with the numbers used to visualize intersectionality. Details in text

    Figure 1.3.2:Intersectionality” by Sylvia Duckworth, Flickr is licensed CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    The dynamics of transnational identities, formations, cultures, and politics are vital to the lives and experiences of Chicanxs and Latinxs. Transnational refers to social dynamics that exist beyond an individual community and nation-state. This deconstructs the importance of existing nations, borders, and paradigms of citizenship, instead focusing on how culture, society, and human life communicate identity and move across lands. Unlike international, global, or multinational, transnational focuses on ideas, activist campaigns, and solidarity efforts transcending nationalistic and colonial borders. Examining transnational dynamics allows us to explore the lives and cultures of migrant people and transnational families and communities.  

    Finally, our use of a relational framework draws from ethnic studies and Chicanx/Latinx studies to include both specific and broad perspectives that draw from diverse experiences and voices, described in detail in Chapter 3: History and Historiography. This affirms intersectional and transnational approaches, which make space for the diversity of what it means to be Chicanx and Latinx. It also extends our analysis to include tools, examples, and scholarship from other ethnic studies fields. As discussed in the previous section, Chicanx studies emerged as part of the movement for ethnic studies. By attending to the experiences and perspectives of minoritized groups, we gain a depth of understanding of the dynamics of race, racialization, and Indigeneity, along with the strategies used to dismantle white supremacy, cisheteropatriarchy, and settler colonialism.


    21 Kimberle Crenshaw, “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics,” University of Chicago Legal Forum 1989 (1989): 139–68; Kimberle Crenshaw, “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color,” Stanford Law Review 43, no. 6 (1991): 1241–99,; Sumi Cho, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, and Leslie McCall, “Toward a Field of Intersectionality Studies: Theory, Applications, and Praxis,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 38, no. 4 (June 2013): 785–810,

    22 Aída Hurtado, Intersectional Chicana Feminisms: Sitios y Lenguas, Bilingual edition (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2020); Edna A. Viruell-Fuentes, Patricia Y. Miranda, and Sawsan Abdulrahim, “More than Culture: Structural Racism, Intersectionality Theory, and Immigrant Health,” Social Science & Medicine 75, no. 12 (December 1, 2012): 2099–2106,; Veronica Terriquez, “Intersectional Mobilization, Social Movement Spillover, and Queer Youth Leadership in the Immigrant Rights Movement,” Social Problems 62, no. 3 (August 1, 2015): 343–62,

    23 Fox, Jonathan. “Unpacking Transnational Citizenship” 8 (May 3, 2005).