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Chicana/o Indigenous Affirmation as Transformational Consciousness: Indigeneity and Transnational Human Rights Advocacy since the Chicana/o Movement


Indigenous social movements in the Americas have multiple sources, but in regards to Mexican Americans, my focus considers Chicana/o Indigeneity of particular importance to decolonization efforts because of its density, scope, and breadth, as well as spatial location. My dissertation answers the following question: how are Chicana/o assertions of cultural Indigeneity, intrinsically parallel and related to Chicana/o participation in Indigenous transnational struggles? The underlying premises for my investigation of Chicana/o Indigeneity are the following subquestions: how do transnational these efforts enrich our understanding of the respect of human rights, and what are the bases of Chicana/o Indigeneity? I explicate how Chicana/o historic consciousness is influenced by the complex transnational activism with Indigenous Peoples to decolonize the Americas and contend that Chicana/o Indigenist activists, informed by trans-border interactions, cultural practices, and long oral traditions challenged hegemonic constraints of Indigeneity constructed by Mexican and U.S. pro-western domination premised assimilationist projects. These challenges have resulted in Chicana/o participation in broader challenges to the prominence of western cultural hegemony in the nation-states of the Americas.

I depict groups and organizations comprising a specific activism that challenge assimilation and contribute to the prominence of contemporary Indigenismo or Indigenism as a cultural and political ideology. This activism, which seeds and stimulates Indigenism, instills calls for cultural assertion within international human rights advocacy. I focus on Chicana/o activists, activist organizations, and cultural groups that demanded the right to revive their Indigenous culture, and in doing so, aligned their cultural revival with the right to cultural survival that is integral to the demands of Indigenous Peoples. Since the late 1960s, the objective of Chicana/o statements on Indigeneity have provided the forum for a discussion regarding a culturally autonomous trajectory for Chicanas and Chicanos free of colonial logics, hegemonic cultures, and oppression. By no means has this road been straight forward and without equivocations. Nevertheless, by the 1980s and well into the twenty-first century, most Chicana/o and Indigenous activists stood generally unified by certain precepts and agreements despite national borders in their efforts to redress the violation of human rights in the Americas.

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