Carving Spaces for Femininsm and Nationalism: Tejana Activism in the Matrix of Social Unrest, 1967-1978



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This study investigates the ways Tejana feminists in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio, Texas straddled a commitment to feminism and ethnic self-determination within the broader nexus of the Chicana/o Movement, the Black Power Movement, and the mainstream Anglo Feminist Movement. I argue that Tejanas in the Mexican American Youth Organization and La Raza Unida Party navigated hyper-masculinity, cultivated homegrown community feminisms, and forged gender and race identities in the segregated South in the 1960s and 1970s. All too often, the Chicana/o Movement is evaluated in isolation from other parts of late-twentieth century protest, ethnic nationalism, and women’s liberation. Employing a relational approach that sheds light on the ways groups relate to and define themselves to others, this dissertation underscores the ways the Black Power Movement’s quest for confrontational dignity informed Tejanos’ hypermasculine rhetoric and praxis, which in turn fueled Tejanas’ anti-sexism stance. Additionally, I contend that Tejana experiences with paternalism and racism in the mainstream Anglo Feminist Movement bolstered their dedication to anti-racism. As community feminists, Tejanas merged anti-sexism and anti-racism to resist institutional and social segregation. They sought to empower women of color, to cultivate Chicana and Chicano Studies as well as bilingual and bicultural education, to promote sexual freedom and reproductive justice, and to end state-sponsored violence. This study contributes to the subfields of Chicana/o, Gender, and Relational Social Movements in the United States by highlighting the linkages among social movements, and the intersection of gender and race in Tejanas’ fights for freedom in the Juan Crow South.



Tejanos, Feminism, Ethnic Self-determination, Anti-racism, Anti-sexism, Mexican American Youth Organization, La Raza Unida Party, Juan Crow South, Segregated South, Segregation, Chicana Studies, State-sponsored Violence, Relational, Chicana/o Movement, Black Power Movement, Anglo Feminist Movement


Portions of this document appear in: Espinoza, Dionne, and Maylei Blackwell, eds. Chicana Movidas: New Narratives of Activism and Feminism in the Movement Era. University of Texas Press, 2018.