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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Making Familia from Scratch : : U.S. Latina/o Narratives of Rupture and Resistance

  • Author(s): Cázares, Gabriela
  • et al.

This dissertation examines the Chicano/a-Latino/a literary representations of alternative family models that arise in the face of the family unit's fragmentation. Survival often calls for the reconfiguration of the family through alternative collectives that provide a sense of belonging and acceptance. I begin with an analysis in two chapters of the representation of rural Chicana/o migrant and cannery worker families in the 1940s-1980s, in texts--both novels and plays--that are the bedrock of the Chicana/o literary canon. In my third and fourth chapters, I move to an urban setting and focus on the battle against gentrification in New York City barrios, and, finally, the fragmentation of Latina/o families as a result of mass incarceration. While the Chicano/as-Latino/as represented are both native U.S. citizens as well as immigrants : each group faces surprisingly similar economic and political challenges reflective of U.S. Latina/o communities as a whole that span across multiple generations. I argue that changes effected by the Chicana/Latina movement over the past several decades have enabled the formation of alternative family models that extend and sometimes are completely formed outside the biological family. These new collectives, while locally based, function to address issues that are reflective of larger national concerns through cultural forms of resistance. Given the size and increased population of Latina/os, these new family models are attracting the attention of activists who see the need to give greater precedence to state factors responsible for creating and maintaining these oppressive conditions

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