My goal is to understand forms of cultural survival for Chicanas/os who attend U.S. public school systems, from K-12 to post-secondary education. I argue that U.S. public schools are invested in assimilating people of color into English speaking mainstream Americans, and in the process create an environment of shame and low self-esteem that students then carry with them throughout their academic paths. The dissertation will focus on the legitimacy placed on English language and the ostracizing of those who do not or cannot comply with U.S. linguistic standards imposed by public school models. In conversation with canonical American Studies works that describe the formation of this nation, this dissertation research will focus on how Chicana/o identity is shaped by the loss of language and forced assimilation. Centered in a society that highly values English speakers, this dissertation work will review literature that reflects the daily struggles of those who do not fit the hegemonic standards of the U.S. and their strategies of recovering access to Spanish to create their own cultural language “in between” these cultural worlds. In particular, I will explore this process through an engagement of Spanish language rock music or rock en Español. In the U.S., Spanish language music had a significant spike in popularity in the late 1990s and early 2000s with what was dubbed by the media as the “Latin Explosion.” This cultural phenomenon has been marked with the mainstream popularity success of artists like Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias, and Jennifer Lopez. While much of their success was due to English language lyrics by Latino artists, many artists who only sang in Spanish benefited from the popularity and had much success in the U.S. This dissertation work focuses on those artists who were/are not only invested in Spanish language rock, but I argue are also speaking back to romanticized notions of Mexican nationalism that allow Chicanas/os to access alternative spaces for knowledge production. A focus on Spanish language rock in this paper will shed light on spaces that facilitate expression of a contemporary Chicana/o identity related to but separate from the 1960’s Chicano nationalist period. This paper will test the argument that these sites of knowledge facilitate not only brief acts of awareness to a particular issue, but spark moments of political consciousness that inform other forms of quotidian action. More specifically, this dissertation will focus on the ways that engagement with these sites of knowledge facilitate dialogues that begin to challenge narratives of Chicanas/os as criminals, delinquents, and as an overall burden to U.S. society. I argue that these sites of knowledge create a transnational dialogue that allows many Chicanas/os in the U.S. to feel as if they have a place/space in which they belong; an identity that transgresses the legal border.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2016. Major: American Studies. Advisor: EDÉN TORRES. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 155 pages.
Taking Back Mi Lengua: Spanish Rock, Space, and Authenticity in Chicana/o Barrios & Academia.
Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,
Content distributed via the University of Minnesota's Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.