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3: History and Historiography

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    Learning Objectives


    History is the story we tell ourselves about how the past explains our present, and the ways in which we tell the story are shaped by contemporary needs. ––Aurora Levins Morales, “The Historian as Curandera”

    Every culture tells stories about its past, albeit in different forms and for different purposes. In modern Western institutions, including those in the United States, history is often portrayed as an objective recounting of the past using facts based on documentary evidence. Chronologically ordered dates are emphasized and the accomplishments of individual “great men” are highly regarded over complex social processes. This information is then pieced together in a written format. Despite this dominant approach, many other perspectives and methods exist concerning the production of history. Sometimes, these differences can produce very different accounts of the same time period or historical event. As mentioned in Section 1.2: Struggle and Protest for Chicanx and Latinx Studies, the production of history is not impartial. The stories we tell and retell about our society are important because they shape our collective historical consciousness and affect our contemporary understandings of social phenomena, as described in the epigraph by Aurora Levins Morales.  

    The study of the ways a group, culture, or discipline constructs its history is called historiography. Chicanx/Latinx history, like other subfields explored in this textbook, does not mean simply studying Chicanxs/Latinxs as a topic or theme, nor does it apply an additive model to an already existing discipline (for example including a one-page biography on Cesar Chavez in a U.S. history textbook). Chicanx/Latinx history is a subfield within Chicanx/Latinx studies, created by and for the community, and is comprised of its own critical approaches, perspectives, and methods, which you will be introduced to in this chapter. We begin by exploring what Chicanx/Latinx history is, how it differs from the dominant discipline of history, and the myriad ways Chicanx/Latinx studies scholars create, revise, and correct historical narratives.

    • 3.1: What is Chicanx/Latinx History?
      Section 3.1 provides an introduction to the field of Chicanx/Latinx history, emphasizing the need for racially marginalized communities to tell their own stories. Three approaches to Chicanx/Latinx history are highlighted, introducing readers to the unique contributions made by scholars in the field.
    • 3.2: Writing Chicanas/Latinas Into History
      This section highlights the contributions of interdisciplinary feminist scholars whose work seeks to recover, reinterpret, and illuminate Chicana/Latina women’s histories, particularly those that center gender and sexuality as analytical categories, thereby intervening in and expanding Chicanx/Latinx history and women’s history.
    • 3.3: Embodied Memories- Archival Movidas and Oral Hxstory
      Section 3.3 introduces readers to two methodologies that have been developed by feminist and queer historians, expanding what is typically considered valid source material and documentary evidence.
    • 3.4: Literary Histories
      The final section of Chapter 3 explores the notion that Chicanx and Latinx literature is history, including fictional texts, autobiographies, testimonios (oral history) and novels. Section 3.4 demonstrates the recovery, documentation, preservation, and dissemination of Chicanx/Latinx literature is an important component in the larger objective of Chicanx/Latinx history to revise, recast, and correct historical narratives that shape our present-day lives.
    • 3.5: Conclusion

    This page titled 3: History and Historiography is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Amber Rose González (ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative (OERI)) .