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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Founded in 1969, the undertakes, promotes and disseminates research regarding the Chicana/o experience in California and the United States. In pursuing this goal, the Institute involves faculty, staff and students from all parts of the UC Santa Barbara campus. The Institute strives to coordinate its activities with Chicano, Latino and Mexican community organizations locally, nationally and internationally. The Institute is particularly committed to supporting research with policy implications.

Chicano Studies Institute

There are 34 publications in this collection, published between 1999 and 2017.
Latinos in Isla Vista: A Report on the Quality of Life Among Latino Immigrants (1)
Rebellious Reading: The Dynamics of Chicana/o Cultural Literacy (3)
Center for Chicano Studies Working Paper Series (2)

Immigrant and Migrant Farm Workers in the Santa Maria Valley, California

Immigrant and migrant farm workers from Mexico and other countries are large and growing in number and in importance to U.S. agriculture, but they often are not counted in the decennial census due to high mobility, illegal status, and/or unconventional housing. This report is based on ethnographic research conducted in California's Santa Maria Valley, an active agricultural area rich in labor-intensive cultivation of prime vegetable and fruit crops. Calculations of crop acreage, man-hours of labor required for each crop, and full- and part-time agricultural employees are verified and augmented by information gained from comprehensive interviews with immigrant and migrant agricultural workers concerning their migratory and employment histories, housing arrangements, and relationships to Mexican communities.

The report concludes that routine census procedures can only result in a significant under-reporting of numbers of immigrant and, particularly, migrant farm workers in Santa Maria and, by extension, in other regions of the country which rely heavily upon imported labor; that many immigrant and migrant farmworkers have good reason to fear exposure to government representatives and thus will attempt to remain hidden from them; and that lack of adequate housing contributes to difficulties in locating and enumerating this population. The most important step toward resolution of these problems and many related issues would be reform of U.S. immigration policy which would recognize, legalize, and protect imported migrant workers. Absent such enlightenment, however, more accurate enumeration and description of this population can be accomplished if bilingual and bicultural census workers are trained to patiently and repeatedly approach their households and unconventional dwellings using ethnographic research methods. Under current conditions, this will require a radical redefinition of the terms "residence" and "household" in the context of the census. And, although the timing of the national census is not ideal for identification of the largest number of migrant farm workers, follow-up studies should be performed at peak employment periods. Such surveys, thoroughly performed, would yield rich rewards in information about the farm-working population as well as provide an essential cross-check to standard census data.

Activist Scholarship: 2006 Chicana/o Graduate Student Colectiva Conference (8)

The Silent Films of Lupe Velez

Maria Guadalupe Vélez de Villalobos, named after Our Lady of Guadalupe, an important icon of Mexican religiosity, ironically, became one of the most exoticized Latin temptresses of Classical Hollywood cinema during the 1940s. Today, Vélez is remembered as a Mexicana that broke into Hollywood during the silent era, only to later become one of the most hyper-sexualized Latinas in United States film history. The author began to research Vélez because she wanted to learn more about what writers seemed to be avoiding and it is for this reason that she discusses the silent film history from the perspective of a film archivist. The author hopes that the research can perhaps begin to unravel why the silent period of Vélez's career has so often been left in the dark.

Social Capital’s Influence on the Likelihood of Mexican Immigrants Having Type 2 Diabetes or Being Obese in Los Angeles County

Most social capital research in the United States has tended to address issues concerning a middle class white population and little has addressed specific health outcomes. Even though it is frequently presented positively, social capital might have a negative relationship for more socially and economically vulnerable populations like Mexican immigrants. For example, social capital is negatively related to Mexican women’s wages, while positively related for non-Latino white women. It is clear that social capital does not guarantee positive outcomes. The currency of social capital is found in the relationships that people have, as the resources embedded in the community remain dormant until they are activated by individuals who pass along information through social interactions. Often overlooked is that negative information and resources can be transferred as well as positive. This paper examines two health outcomes--diabetes and obesity--to explore how social capital is related to an individual’s health, controlling for the influence that might be experienced by a vulnerable lower socioeconomic group like Mexican immigrants.

Voices of Courage and Strength: Undocumented Immigrant Students in the United States

In the academic literature and the media, attention is focused on adult undocumented immigrants who are more visible and whose progress through the labor market and the immigration bureaucracy can be more easily traced. As more immigrant families relocate to different areas of the United States, it is imperative for educators, health service providers, researchers, and policy makers to become familiar with their needs and contributions to society, especially those of immigrant youth. Although undocumented immigrant students face many stressors and barriers, many overcome these obstacles, become academically successful role models, and continue to make a difference in many lives. Resilient undocumented immigrant youth are making valuable contributions in our society.

5 more worksshow all
Strengthening Families Report (1)

Strengthening Families: A Preliminary Report Regarding Youth Violence on the South Coast

As the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury noted in its June 16, 2008 report on anti-gang efforts, approximately 90% of South Coast gang activity involves Latinos. This situation compels a thorough analysis of the factors that contribute to gang formation in local Latino communities. As regards youth violence prevention, research directs our attention to Latino families in particular, not because these families are inherently deficient or dysfunctional, but rather because they may be strongly impacted by economic hardship and may be underserved by local institutions. This report collects the thoughts of fifty local leaders, program administrators, and service providers, all of whom were asked to offer their ideas regarding how to reduce gang violence, and how to more productively engage Latino families in the process. As this report demonstrates, many local leaders who work closely with the Latino communities on the South Coast believe that strengthening Latino families will need to be a top priority if headway is to be made in preventing youth violence. This report suggests that anti-gang programs and services be initiated, maintained and evaluated with this priority in mind.

Other Recent Work (1)

Santa Barbara School District Gang Intervention Specialist Evaluation Report

In 2009 the Santa Barbara School District launched an intervention program for some of the students identified by school personnel as possibly involved in gangs. In this pilot year the program was evaluated by a research team led by Dr. Victor Rios, from the University of California, Santa Barbara, to document the program’s implementation, analyze program efficacy, and determine student needs. This evaluation included qualitative pre test surveys completed by 59 students and qualitative post test surveys completed by 84 students. These surveys were designed to measure the students’ attitudes towards school, community and family, and also allowed for the confidential reporting of violence, victimization, crime and gang-involvement. The evaluation also consisted of participant observations of group sessions, events and workshops in which four researchers shadowed the outreach worker to witness the immediate impact participation in the program had on students. The evaluators also conducted forty in-depth interviews with individual students and ten focus group interviews. These interviews included open-ended and structured questions regarding their perceptions of the outreach worker and how he has impacted their perceptions and aspirations. Finally, grade, attendance, suspension, and citizenship data were analyzed in an attempt to measure academic progress.

We found that the program’s “Gang Intervention Specialist” (from here on “outreach worker” or “GIS”) employs a motivational approach that is supported by the findings of previous evaluations of gang prevention and intervention programs. A motivational approach emphasizes building a one-on-one relationship based on trust and advocacy. Some of the leading researchers specializing in gang intervention programs have concluded that these motivational, “detached worker programs” are particularly suited for helping gang youth by connecting with them on their level. Outreach workers with similar backgrounds who can understand the experiences of the students they work with are adept at connecting these youth with school and community.

Overall, the outreach worker appears to be meeting the school district’s primary goals of connecting the students with school and reducing the level of gang related conflict and violence. For example, students reported greater levels of attachment to school six months after the evaluation’s pre test surveys. 71% of students reported that grades were always or usually very important to them in the post test survey and 54.2% indicated that they wanted to achieve a university degree, which represented a dramatic rise from the 26% who claimed to have similar aspirations in the pre test. Students also reported lower rates of delinquency, victimization, and pressure to join gangs after their participation in the outreach program. The program has been found as overall effective based on the improvement of student levels of self-esteem, educational attitudes, and self-reported decrease in negative gang behaviors.

Thirty of 110 students that Mr. Huerta worked with, or 27% raised, their G.P.A by at least .25 points within two marking periods. 51% of students experienced no change in their G.P.A. 22% of students saw a drop of .25 points or more in their G.P.A. No significant changes in citizenship, attendance, or suspensions were found.