CSRC Newsletter - May 2009

Volume 7, Number 8

Director’s Message

You’ve got to see it to believe it! I’m talking about Old San Francisco (Warner Bros., 1927), which will air on Tuesday, May 5, 10:00 p.m., on Turner Classic Movies. The silent film is part of a month-long festival titled “Race and Hollywood: Latino Images in Film,” which I am co-hosting with Robert Osborne. Old San Francisco is a fast-paced and bizarre tale of a noble Spanish family, whose ancestors founded San Francisco in 1769 but whose fortunes are now in decline. A white businessman and civic leader wants the Vasquez family’s land. Unbeknownst to everyone, the businessman, played by the Swedish-born actor Warner Oland (who played Charlie Chan in the 1930s), is really Chinese passing as white. He secretly prays to his “Mongol idols” in the basement where he keeps his dwarf brother locked in a cage. When his efforts are thwarted, he attempts to sell Dolores, the sole Vasquez heir, into white slavery. She prays to God, who responds with the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, thereby freeing her. In the final shot, Dolores and her Irish-American suitor have married and have a daughter. Wow! Besides the outlandish storyline, there are three things about this film that I find fascinating:
* The film’s historical thread starts in the deep history of the Spanish empire, then moves to the early twentieth century, passing through the Gold Rush of 1848 but completely ignoring Mexican history and the racial mixing between Spanish and Indian that produced the Mexican people. Other films do the same, notably The Mark of Zorro (1920) (and its successors), which is actually set in Mexican California.
* Although the film is deeply rooted in nostalgia about Spanish nobles, it is important to note that the nostalgia is not about the past, but rather about the Mexicans occupying California in the present of the story (1906) and the film’s release (1927).

* The film is very self-conscious about ethnic identifications. In an inter-title Dolores’s suitor proclaims, “Please Senorita, I am not bold, I am Irish.” In the next scene, the inter-title informs the viewer, “The Chinese question had long vexed San Francisco.”
The racism of a film like Old San Francisco now seems obvious and laughable. But to dismiss this film presumes that we don’t have our own blind spots today. The film states that Chinese should never pass as white. It makes the same point about Mexicans in a more round about way, shifting the focus to two European ethnic groups once considered nonwhite: the Spanish and the Irish. Their intermarriage and integration into mainstream society displaces the Chinese and Mexican question that had long vexed the Southwest. Check out the rest of the festival to see how it all turns out by the 1990s! For a broadcast schedule go to the TMC website, for more about the program click here, to read UCLA-released article follow this link, and to read a related blog visit La Voz.
Chon A. Noriega
Director and Professor


Hate Speech Institute
This summer the CSRC and the UCLA Graduate Division will sponsor the Summer Institute for the Study of Hate Speech. Institute participants will examine the incidence of hate speech in the media, expanding on a CSRC pilot study that was completed earlier this year. Public presentations, workshops, and/or seminars will focus on an integrative methodology that is being developed by the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) to quantify the occurrence of hate speech in commercial programming. The institute is open to faculty and graduate students, and interested graduate students may also apply for a limited number of work-study research internships. For information, contact CSRC Assistant Director Javier Iribarren at jiribarren@chicano.ucla.edu. Findings from the pilot study, which received SSRC funding, have been published in CSRC Latino Issues and Policy Brief No. 22, Hate Speech on Commercial Talk Radio: Preliminary Report on a Pilot Study, by Chon A. Noriega and Javier Iribarren; the brief is available at the CSRC Press website.
Exhibition by Willie Herrón III
The CSRC is a co-sponsor for the Federal Art Project’s inaugural exhibition, Xicano Moratorium to the Ballad of El-Lay: Herrón 1970–1980. The show features the work of renowned Chicano artist and early punk scene contributor Willie Herrón III. The exhibition continues through May 31. The mission of the Federal Art Project (FAP), which opened on April 9, is to develop and establish artists from Los Angeles and beyond. The gallery is located in downtown Los Angeles at 316 W. 2nd St. For more details, visit the FAP website.
Elma L. Gonzalez Honored
Texas Woman’s University (TWU) and the TWU Former Students Association have recognized Elma L. Gonzalez, UCLA professor emerita and CSRC Press author, for her work to increase minority and female participation in science research. At UCLA she founded the Center for Academic and Research Excellence and was director of the Minority Access to Research Careers. She is a contributing author to Paths to Discovery: Autobiographies from Chicanas with Careers in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering, published by the CSRC Press. To read about the book, visit the Press’s website. For more information about the TWU Distinguished Alumni Awards visit the TWU website.
NCORE Presentation by Daniel Solorzano
Daniel G. Solorzano, professor of education at UCLA and former CSRC associate director, will give a presentation titled “Keeping Race in Place: Racial Microaggressions and Campus Racial Climate” at the 22nd Annual National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE). Press author Lydia Villa-Komaroff will talk about Paths to Discovery, a CSRC Press publication that presents the stories of Chicanas with careers in science, engineering, and mathematics. She is the CEO of Cytonome Inc. NCORE will be held in San Diego from May 26 through May 30. For details visit the NCORE website. Registration for the conference is required. To read about Paths to Discovery, visit the Press’s website.
Call for Papers
The Inter-University Program for Latino Research (IUPLR), a research consortium co-founded by the CSRC, invites faculty and advanced graduate scholars to submit academic papers for presentation at “Siglo XXI: The State of Latino Studies,” September 24­–26, at the University of Illinois, Chicago. The conference will examine the current state of Latino studies and the variety of political, economic, cultural, and institutional forces affecting the growth of the discipline and its ability to survive in the American academy. A two-page abstract is due Monday, June 1. For more information, please contact Maria Elena Bessignano at 574-631-3481 or bessignano.1@nd.edu.


Free Screening of Award-Winning Film
The CSRC, UCLA Melnitz Movies, and the Latin American Institute will present Alex Rivera’s visionary Sleep Dealer on Tuesday, May 5, 7:30 p.m., in UCLA’s James Bridges Theater (1409 Melnitz). A Q&A with the filmmaker and CSRC Director Chon A. Noriega will follow the screening. The film, written by Rivera and David Riker, received the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award as well as the Alfred P. Sloan Prize for the best film dealing with science or technology at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. The story follows Memo Cruz, who is forced to leave his small village in Mexico. He heads to Tijuana, where migrant labor has become virtual. Fitted with nodes that connect their central nervous systems to a supercomputer, laborers plug in and operate equipment on the other side of the border. Rivera's impressive debut blends science fiction and provocative social commentary. The New York Times called Rivera “a brilliant young director.” The film is in Spanish and English with English subtitles. 90 min. Parking is available in structure 3 and can be purchased for $9.00 at the kiosk located at Wyton Ave. and Hilgard Ave. Directions to UCLA are available at www.ucla.edu/map.
Open House at UCLA Day
UCLA’s four ethnic studies research centers—the American Indian Studies Center, the Asian American Studies Center, the Bunche Center for African American Studies, and the Chicano Studies Research Center—will host an open house for alumni at the 2009 UCLA Day on Saturday, May 9, 5:30­–6:30 p.m. Please join us to learn more about the programs sponsored by the ethnic studies research centers and to network with fellow alumni, faculty, and current students. Light refreshments will be served. The location of the open house will be available at check-in. For more information, please visit the UCLA Day website.
Fourth Annual Latina/o Education Summit
The CSRC and the UC All Campus Consortium on Research for Diversity (UC/ACCORD) are pleased to announce this year’s Latina/o Education Summit, “Critical Issues for Immigrant and Undocumented Students in the Latina/o Education Pipeline.” The summit will take place on Friday, May 15, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. at the UCLA Faculty Center. The education summit series spotlights the critical issues facing Latina/o students at each segment of the education pipeline and explores viable policy recommendations and initiatives that can increase the number of Latina/o students who earn undergraduate and graduate degrees. This year the conference will focus on critical issues for immigrant and undocumented immigrant Latina/o students, exploring the work of scholars, educators, political leaders, and students who are creating strategies to improve educational opportunity.
La Gente de Aztlán Reunion and Benefit
Readers and supporters and Gentistas past and present are invited to help celebrate forty years of La Gente de Aztlán, UCLA’s groundbreaking community-based, student-run news magazine, at a reunion and benefit on Friday, May 15, 6:00–8:00 p.m., in the CSRC Library (144 Haines Hall). Dan Guerrero, independent producer and the 2008 Distinguished Community Scholar at the César E. Chávez Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies at UCLA, will be the master of ceremonies, and artists Miguel Angel Reyes and Héctor Silva will be special guests. Events will include portrait drawing by Mr. Reyes; a silent art auction featuring two signed, limited-edition prints by Mr. Silva; and the launch of the La Gente de Aztlán Digital Archive. The launch marks the completion of a two-year project to digitize all issues of La Gente and to make them available to libraries and research institutions. Mariachi de Uclatlán, under the direction of Jesus Guzman, will perform, and refreshments will be served. The event is sponsored by the CSRC. For more information, please call the La Gente office at 310-825-9836.
Special Tribute to Don T. Nakanishi
The UCLA Asian American Studies Center (AASC) will celebrate its fortieth anniversary and the career of AASC Director Don T. Nakanishi on Saturday, May 16, 4:00–7:00 p.m. The outdoor program and reception will take place in UCLA’s Dickson Court North. To attend, please RSVP before May 5 by e-mailing aascrsvp@aasc.ucla.edu or calling (310) 825-2974.


CSRC Arts Internship
The CSRC has received a grant from the Getty Foundation to fund a Summer Arts Internship. The intern will be exposed to all aspects of archival processing while concentrating on a few specific projects related to the arts. This in turn will make materials accessible for an exhibition project that the CSRC is developing for the Getty's Pacific Standard Time Initiative. The resulting exhibition will explore the contributions of Mexican American artists and Chicano arts organizations in Los Angeles from 1945 through 1980. To qualify for consideration, the applicant:
· Must be a currently enrolled undergraduate and have completed at least one semester of college by June 2009.
· Will not graduate before December 2009.
· Must be a resident of or attending college in Los Angeles County.
Applications are due by Monday, May 4. Please address inquiries to Javier Iribarren, CSRC assistant director, jiribarren@chicano.ucla.edu.

CSRC Library and Archive

Recent Archival Acquisition
The CSRC Library is happy to announce the addition of the David Damian Figueroa Collection. These materials document Mr. Figueroa’s career as a performer and an entertainment publicist, as well as his work in civil rights and public policy with MALDEF, the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority, and the AARP, where he served as state director. The collection, which includes photographs, correspondence, ephemera, books, serials, and audio and visual materials, will be a valuable resource for researchers interested in Chicano popular culture and Chicano participation in civic service and civil rights organizing.
The LGBTIQ and Mujeres Initiatives
The CSRC Library was awarded a Ford Foundation grant to develop the center’s efforts to increase its LGBTIQ and women’s archival collections. A project spearheaded largely by Yolanda Retter-Vargas, CSRC’s former librarian and archivist, these initiatives will serve to document an underserved community whose stories are lacking in the archival record. As part of this effort, the CSRC is processing four new collections: the Yolanda Retter-Vargas Collection, the Alex Donis Collection of Papers and Visual Works, the Rigoberto Gonzalez Papers, and the Gronk Collection of Papers and Visual Works. In addition to increasing the CSRC’s holdings of LGBTIQ and women’s collections, this two-year project will result in the creation of a guide for community archiving. The guide will provide repositories and community organizations with the professional and culturally sensitive tools needed to document and preserve the stories of underserved communities. The guide will be available in December 2009.
New Collections in Process
The Diane Rodriguez Latino Theater Initiative, Center Theatre Group Papers 1980–2000 (approximately 4 linear feet), comprises papers pertaining to Diane Rodriguez’s life and work. A prominent American theater artist who directs, writes, and performs, Ms. Rodriguez received her BA in theater arts from UC Santa Barbara. Her work is known for its use of comedy to confront gender and sexual oppression. In the mid-1970s she joined El Teatro Campesino, and she honed her comedic skills performing on a variety of stages—from flatbed trucks to ancient Greco-Roman amphitheatres. Most significantly, she has been a producer and director at Los Angeles’s Center Theatre Group, along with her partner, Louis Alfaro.
The Sandra Ruiz and Alicia Gaspar de Alba Collection of Maquiladora Murders Research Materials (approximately 4.5 linear feet) contains artifacts made by UCLA students to honor the women murdered in Juárez, Mexico, in what has become known as the “Maquiladora Murders.” Alicia Gaspar de Alba is an award-winning novelist and poet as well as professor and chair of Chicana/o studies at UCLA. Ms. Gaspar de Alba, a native of El Paso, Texas, taught English to Mexican executives and staff members of maquiladoras owned by General Motors at the Instituto Interlingua in Juárez from 1978 to 1980. Sandra Ruiz is a graduate student in the UCLA Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

CSRC Press

New Publications for Education Summit
In conjunction with the fourth annual Latina/o Education Summit, the CSRC Press has released two new publications. Still Dreaming: Legislation and Legal Decisions Affecting Undocumented AB 540 Students in California, CSRC Latino Policy and Issues Brief No. 23, by Nancy Guarneros, Cyndi Bendezu, Veronica N. Velez, Lindsay Perez Huber, and Daniel G. Solorzano, tracks the ongoing legislative and legal debate regarding education for undocumented students. The authors discuss the importance of AB 540 and the Dream Act. Struggling for Opportunity: Undocumented AB 540 Students in the Latina/o Educational Pipeline, CSRC Research Report No. 13, by Lindsay Perez Huber, Maria C. Malagon, and Daniel G. Solorzano, offers a detailed look at the issues facing undocumented students. The report focuses on AB 540, the California statute that allows undocumented students who fill certain criteria to pay in-state tuition at the state’s public colleges and universities. The brief is available in printed form, and both documents are available online. For more information visit the CSRC Press website.
Just Released—Book Plus DVD!
The Fire of Life: The Robert Legorreta–Cyclona Collection explores Robert Legorreta’s career as the performance artist Cyclona. The author, Robb Hernandez, traces Mr. Legorreta’s performances and personal history through letters, photographs, and artifacts in the collection, which is housed at the CSRC Library. The artist, who emerged on the East L.A. art scene in the late 1960s, is known for his startling performances, many with collaborators such as Mundo Mesa, Patssi Valdez, and Gronk. The book includes an illustrated section of album covers collected by Mr. Legorreta for the significance of the cover art. Each book includes a DVD featuring Death Becomes Life, Life Becomes ?—a performance by Cyclona in 1992—and a bonus documentary, Cyclona’s New Costumes, produced in 2009 by CSRC Archivist Michael Stone. Also included is a detailed finding aid for the collection. The Fire of Life is volume 2 in The Chicano Archives series.
New Publication on Early Chicano Art Group
Ruben C. Cordova traces the history of Con Safo, one of the earliest and most significant of the Chicano art groups, from the mid-1960s, when it formed as El Grupo, to the mid-1970s, when Con Safo gradually disbanded. Closely connected to the ideology of the Chicano movement, Con Safo was at the forefront of efforts to define a Chicano art at a time when Chicano culture was largely invisible. Cordova’s painstaking research, which included extensive archival work and interviews with group members and activists, resolves many of the contradictions and fills in many of the gaps that exist in earlier accounts of the group.

Go to Newsletter Archive