TESTIMONIOS AS CRITICAL TOOLS IN THEORIZING CHICANA/LATINA AND INDIGENOUS WOMEN'S STUDIES
The Chicana/Latina Research Center in spring 2010 received funding from the UC Irvine Humanities Research Institute to form an inter-campus working group on the topic of “TESTIMONIOS AS CRITICAL TOOLS IN THEORIZING CHICANA/LATINA AND INDIGENOUS WOMEN'S STUDIES.” T he center's co-directors, Inés Hernández-Avila and Lorena Oropeza, crafted the funded application.
The working group draws together 13 scholars from four UC campuses to share their research and collaborate on new projects with this theme in mind. Among the fields represented by this group are psychology, literature, history, sociology, anthropology, education, and religious studies. First employed as a means of recording social struggle in Latin America, testimonios are personal narratives in which individuals relate their own experiences. But the methodology has a wide appeal as the diversity of scholars suggests because testimonios have proven especially useful in capturing the wisdom of marginalized populations, tracing resistance among the oppressed, and exploring the personal and political lives of women and queers. These thirteen scholars have used testimonios to gain insight into Latino/a and indigenous sexuality, political involvement, educational achievement, social positioning, and literary production. Through web-based and in-person gathering during the 2010-2011 academic year, we look forward to exploring the continual utility of testimonios across disciplines and investigating and complicating notions of evidence, truth, objectivity, and textual versus oral authority within our research.
The working group represents a small triumph in a disastrous budget year. On June 30, 2009, the University of California's Office of the President suspended 100% of its funding for the C/LRC and other similar centers across the UC-system. These research centers emerged in response to a 1987 California Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR #43) that urged the University of California to coordinate funding and research regarding California Latinos.
Unique among similar centers on other UC campuses, however, only the C/LRC at Davis has had a gender focus. Today it is still the only research center in the country that focuses specifically on Chicanas, Latinas, and indigenous women in the United States. From its start in 1991, its dual mission has been to cultivate both Chicana/Latina research and, through pipeline mentoring work, Chicana/Latina researchers.
We were fortunate during the 2009-2010 academic year to receive funding from the Davis Humanities Center and the Consortium for Women and Research to continue our work at a more modest level. We hope to use this working group as a springboard to secure additional funding so that the C/LRC may remain operational for many years to come.