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Reimagining the Mexican Revolution in the United Farm Workers’ El Malcriado (1965-1966)

  • Author(s): Fernandez, Julia
  • Advisor(s): Wardwell, Mariana R
  • et al.
Abstract

This thesis is a historical and visual analysis of the United Farm Workers’ (UFW) newspaper El Malcriado and their reimagination of the Mexican Revolution narrative to visualize the farm worker movement in the U.S. The UFW newspaper was launched during the origins of the Delano Grape Strike in 1965 to galvanize the masses. Artwork by the Mexican printing collective Taller de Gráfica Popular (TGP), photography from the Mexican Revolution, and caricatures by Chicano artists Andrew “Andy” Zermeño communicated the goals of the union through allegory, symbolism, and satire. The first two volumes of El Malcriado reproduced prints from the 1940s by the TGP on the cover, which served as revolutionary allegories to visualize a transnational struggle that connected the UFW labor movement and agribusiness in the U.S. with the history of pre-colonial Mexico, Mexican Revolution, and hacienda system. Photography of Mexican generals Emiliano Zapata and Francisco “Pancho” Villa were used as symbols of revolution and leadership, but especially with Zapata, as a symbol for land rights and agrarian justice. Andy Zermeño used caricature and satire to visualize the unjust conditions and power dynamics of the farm worker, foreman, and farm owner—characters that would later be performed under the productions of playwright Luis Valdez by the farm workers themselves. I argue that the radical reimaginings of the Mexican Revolution on the pages of El Malcriado empower the farm workers to visualize their movement during the pivotal era if the Delano Grape Strike and identify not only their cultural origins, but also their connection with a larger global agrarian struggle and fight for workers’ rights.

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