Summary Of Mexican American Culture

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Up until the 1960s Anglo social scientists wrote most of the literature about the people of Mexican- descent in the United States. Their analysis of Mexican American culture and history reflected the hegemonic beliefs, values, and perceptions of their society. As outsiders, Anglo scholars were led by their own biases and viewed Mexicans as inferior, savage, unworthy and different. Because Mexican scholars had not yet begun to write about their own experiences, these stereotypes were legitimized and reproduced in the literature. However, during the mid- 1960s scholars such as Octavio Ignacio Romano, Nick Vaca, Francisco Armando Rios, and Ralph Ricatelli began to reevaluate the literature written by their predecessors. In their work they analyze …show more content…

Before the 1960s many social science disciplines utilized cultural determinist paradigms as their framework for knowledge production. For example, in “The Anthropology and Sociology of the Mexican-Americans,” Octavio Ignacio Romano describes how anthropologists and sociologists used the concept of Traditional Culture to explain the history of Mexican Americans. According to Romano, this concept “deal[s] with human beings only as passive containers and retainers of culture,” which posits Mexican Americans are ahistorical people (“The Anthropology” 26). Therefore, in using this theoretical lens Romano argues social science scholars not only erase the history of Mexican Americans but also perpetuate the idea that Mexican American culture is deficient and prohibits their progress. For example, he criticizes Ruth Tuck along with other sociologists and anthropologists for describing Mexican Americans as fatalistic people who adjust to their problems, instead of making an effort to overcome them (“The Anthroplogy” 29). To counter the ahistorical views of these scholars Romano cites historical evidence of Mexican immigrant workers striking and making an effort to change their working conditions. For example, he mentions the strikes of the sugar beet workers in California, the railway workers in Los Angeles, and the sheepherders in Texas. All of these instances disprove the idea that Mexicans are …show more content…

Throughout “The Mexican in Fact, Fiction, and Folkore” examines the term “Mexican” as it is applied in Southwest literature and argues the Anglo society has made a conscious effort to misrepresent Mexicans (Rios 60). He states the people of Mexican descent are viewed as un-American because they are perceived as filthy, lazy, and dumb. Ricatelli adds to the conversation of Mexican stereotypes by examining the literary expressions of Chicanas and Mexicanas in the literature of both the United States and Mexico. In “The Sexual Stereotypes of The Chicana in Literature” Ricatelli explains how in Yankee literature, the Chicana is referred to as the “fat breeder, who is a baby factory” meanwhile the Mexican is described as an “amoral, lusty hot tamale” (Ricatelli 51). He makes note of these stereotypes in order to highlight the ethnocentric and nativist points of view that dominated Anglo literature. Furthermore, he describes the multiple forms of control Chicana women face when he states, “The Chicana is first of all oppressed economically, socially, and politically by virtue of her being a woman. Secondly, the Chicana as a member of an oppressed ethnic and/ or racial group is limited to the same extent as the Chicano by the dominant Anglo society” (50). However, he fails to mention the experiences of queer women, which implies how the Chicano

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