Latina/o Studies Faculty Books

Diaz Montoya cover

José Montoya

A generously illustrated account of the life and work of the prominent Chicano artist, educator, and activist, José Montoya.

José Montoya (1932–2013) was a leading figure in bilingual and bicultural expression drawn from barrio life as a defining feature of U.S. culture. As an artist, poet, and musician, he produced iconic works depicting pachuco and pachuca culture based on his own experiences as a youth after World War II. These include the poem “El Louie” as well as thousands of political posters and masterful sketches. Montoya co-founded the art collective Royal Chicano Air Force and helped organize for the United Farm Workers. An influential educator, he established the Barrio Art Program in the early 1970s, and taught at California State University, Sacramento.

Author Ella Maria Diaz examines a remarkable career that traversed decades, languages, media, and genres. This book is illustrated with reproductions of Montoya’s art from rarely seen archival slides and documents, as well as from private collections and the Montoya estate. Through oral histories and archival research, Diaz proposes a new model for the study of Latina/o/x artists who reject the boundaries between visual art, poetry, music, education, and community activism.

José Montoya

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The Queer Nuyorican

A queer genealogy of the famous performance space and the nuyorican aesthetic

One could easily overlook the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, a small, unassuming performance venue on New York City’s Lower East Side. Yet the space once hosted the likes of Victor Hernández Cruz, Allen Ginsberg, and Amiri Baraka and is widely credited as the homespace for the emergent nuyorican literary and aesthetic movement of the 1990s. Founded by a group of counterculturalist Puerto Rican immigrants and artists in the 1970s, the space slowly transformed the Puerto Rican ethnic and cultural associations of the epithet “Nuyorican,” as the Cafe developed into a central hub for an artistic movement encompassing queer, trans, and diasporic performance.

The Queer Nuyorican is the first queer genealogy and critical study of the historical, political, and cultural conditions under which the term “Nuyorican” shifted from a raced/ethnic identity marker to “nuyorican,” an aesthetic practice. The nuyorican aesthetic recognizes and includes queer poets and performers of color whose writing and performance build upon the politics inherent in the Cafe’s founding. Initially situated within the Cafe’s physical space and countercultural discursive history, the nuyorican aesthetic extends beyond these gendered and ethnic boundaries, broadening the ethnic marker Nuyorican to include queer, trans, and diasporic performance modalities.

Hip-hop studies, alongside critical race, queer, literary, and performance theories, are used to document the interventions made by queer and trans artists of color—Miguel Piñero, Regie Cabico, Glam Slam participants, and Ellison Glenn/Black Cracker—whose works demonstrate how the Nuyorican Poets Cafe has operated as a queer space since its founding. In focusing on artists who began their careers as spoken word artists and slam poets at the Cafe, The Queer Nuyorican examines queer modes of circulation that are tethered to the increasing visibility, commodification, and normalization of spoken word, slam poetry, and hip-hop theater in the United States and abroad.

The Queer Nuyorican

Migrant Citizenship

Migrant Citizenship

In Migrant Citizenship, Verónica Martínez-Matsuda examines the history of the FSA's Migratory Labor Camp Program and its role in the lives of diverse farmworker families across the United States, describing how the camps provided migrants sanitary housing, full on-site medical service, a nursery school program, primary education, home-demonstration instruction, food for a healthy diet, recreational programming, and lessons in participatory democracy through self-governing councils. In these ways, she argues, the camps functioned as more than just labor centers aimed at improving agribusiness efficiency. Instead, they represented a profound "experiment in democracy" seeking to secure migrant farmworkers' full political and social participation in the United States. In recounting this chapter in the FSA's history, Migrant Citizenship provides insights into public policy concerning migrant workers, federal intervention in poor people's lives, and workers' cross-racial movements for social justice and offers a precedent for those seeking to combat the precarity in farm labor relations today.

"Migrant Citizenship is a magisterial study of the Farm Security Administration and the people it served. In an evocative work that speaks across several fields, Verónica Martínez-Matsuda reveals how FSA officials on the ground and in Washington challenged the political mind-set during World War II by expanding the range of services offered and the hopes for reform encoded within them, highlighting the agency's visionary experiments in democracy."—Vicki L. Ruiz, University of California, Irvine


"Verónica Martínez-Matsuda foregrounds the perseverance of the workers—especially Japanese and Mexican—who occupied agricultural labor camps in the 1930s and 1940s and drew upon the promises made during the New Deal to argue for 'civil rights' well before the concept applied to Latinx or Asian Americans. Her most important intervention may be her argument that the Farm Security Administration tried (and failed) to extend rights to noncitizens, anticipating the current vogue of rights regardless of citizenship. Migrant Citizenship will appeal to anyone interested in understanding the origins of farm worker activism in this country and the continued struggle to hold the state accountable for injustice in our food system."—Matt Garcia, author of From the Jaws of Victory: The Triumph and Tragedy of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Worker Movement


Migrant Citizenship

Nerds book cover

Nerds, Goths, Geeks, and Freaks Outsiders in Chicanx and Latinx Young Adult Literature


Contributions by Carolina Alonso, Elena Avilés, Trevor Boffone, Christi Cook, Ella Diaz, Amanda Ellis, Cristina Herrera, Guadalupe García McCall, Domino Pérez, Adrianna M. Santos, Roxanne Schroeder-Arce, Lettycia Terrones, and Tim Wadham

In Nerds, Goths, Geeks, and Freaks: Outsiders in Chicanx and Latinx Young Adult Literature, the outsider intersects with discussions of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. The essays in this volume address questions of outsider identities and how these identities are shaped by mainstream myths around Chicanx and Latinx young people, particularly with the common stereotype of the struggling, underachieving inner-city teens.

Contributors also grapple with how young adults reclaim what it means to be an outsider, weirdo, nerd, or goth, and how the reclamation of these marginalized identities expand conversations around authenticity and narrow understandings of what constitutes cultural identity.

Included are analysis of such texts as I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, Shadowshaper, Swimming While Drowning, and others. Addressed in the essays are themes of outsiders in Chicanx/Latinx children’s and young adult literature, and the contributors insist that to understand Latinx youth identities it is necessary to shed light on outsiders within an already marginalized ethnic group: nerds, goths, geeks, freaks, and others who might not fit within such Latinx popular cultural paradigms as the chola and cholo, identities that are ever-present in films, television, and the internet.


Nerds, Goths, Geeks, and Freaks recovers ‘weird’ and other marginalized Latinx and Chicanx youth from the margins of literary studies and our cultural imaginations. By making visible their stories and experiences, this collection presents possibilities for identity-making in ways that challenge hegemonic constructions of Latinx and Chicanx identities. This is a much-needed intervention.

- Larissa M. Mercado-López, associate professor of women’s studies at California State University, Fresno

Nerds, Goths, Geeks, and Freaks Outsiders in Chicanx and Latinx Young Adult Lit…

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Extraordinary Partnerships: How the Arts and Humanities are Transforming America

Chapter 8: Poster Dreams by Ella Diaz, Professor, Latina/o Studies/American Studies at Cornell University[Henseler-0017]!/4/2[ch09]/2[header0901]/2/2[p137]/1:0

This inspirative and hopeful collection demonstrates that the arts and humanities are entering a renaissance that stands to change the direction of our communities. Community leaders, artists, educators, scholars, and professionals from many fields show how they are creating responsible transformations through partnership in the arts and humanities. The diverse perspectives that come together in this book teach us how to perceive our lives and our disciplines through a broader context. The contributions exemplify how individuals, groups, and organizations use artistic and humanistic principles to explore new structures and novel ways of interacting to reimagine society. They refresh and reinterpret the ways in which we have traditionally assigned space and value to the arts and humanities.


Extraordinary Partnerships: How the Arts and Humanities are Transforming America

A Nation of Immigrants Reconsidered US Society in an Age of Restriction, 1924-1965

Maria Cristina Garcia co-edited the publication, A Nation of Immigrants Reconsidered, with Maddalena Marinari assistant professor of history at Gustavus Adolphus College and Madeline Y. Hsu professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin.

In A Nation of Immigrants Reconsidered, leading scholars of immigration explore how the political and ideological struggles of the "age of restriction"--from 1924 to 1965--paved the way for the changes to come. The essays examine how geopolitics, civil rights, perceptions of America's role as a humanitarian sanctuary, and economic priorities led government officials to facilitate the entrance of specific immigrant groups, thereby establishing the legal precedents for future policies. Eye-opening articles discuss Japanese war brides and changing views of miscegenation, the recruitment of former Nazi scientists, a temporary workers program with Japanese immigrants, the emotional separation of Mexican immigrant families, Puerto Rican youth’s efforts to claim an American identity, and the restaurant raids of conscripted Chinese sailors during World War II.


A Nation of Immigrants Reconsidered

Experimentalisms in Practice: Music Perspectives from Latin America

Alejandro Madrid co-editor of Experimentalisms in Practice explores the multiple sites in which experimentalism emerges and becomes meaningful beyond Eurocentric interpretative frameworks. Challenging the notion of experimentalism as defined in conventional narratives, contributors take a broad approach to a wide variety of Latin@ and Latin American music traditions conceived or perceived as experimental.

“By focusing on elite and popular musical practices by Latin American and Latino musicians, the book contributes to decolonizing the Anglo-American and Eurocentric tradition that has defined experimentalism in narrow nationalist terms for decades,” said Alejandro Madrid, Cornell professor of music and co-editor with Ana Alonso-Minutti of the University of New Mexico and Eduardo Herrera of Rutgers University.

Read more from Experimentalisms in Place here.


Experimentalisms in Practice: Music Perspectives from Latin America

LATINAS: Struggles & Protests in 21st Century USA

Karen Jaime, Professor of Latina/o Studies and Performing and Media Arts at Cornell University, poetry was published in the anthology, “Latinas: Struggles & Protests in 21st Century USA”, edited by longtime activist Iris Morales. The anthology illustrates how Latinas understand the gendered conditions of their lives and discuss inequities faced as women and also by class, race, ethnicity, national origin, and immigration status.



LATINAS: Struggles & Protests in 21st Century USA

The Refugee Challenge in Post-Cold War America

Maria Cristina Garcia has published The Refugee Challenge in Post-Cold War America (Oxford University Press).  Alan M. Kraut, past president of the Organization of American Historians, states that “This volume stands alone as the best history of U.S. refugee policy in post-Cold War America.  Garcia chronicles the struggles of Russian refuseniks, Chinese dissidents, Rwandans fleeing genocide, as well as Haitian and Cuban boat people among those seeking sanctuary from persecution. Her meticulous research and incisive analysis illuminates the confusions and inadequacies of United States refugee policy under Republican and Democratic presidents alike.”  Carl Bon Tempos, author of Americans at the Gate, states that  “This book deftly explains how domestic politics, economic circumstances, and national security concerns have shaped what the United States has done –and not done- in the face of multiple refugee crises in the two decades after the end of the Cold War’. He describes her book as “masterful and elegant”.

The Refugee challenge in Post-Cold War America

Royal Chicano Air Force

Flying Under the Radar with the Royal Chicano Air Force Mapping a Chicano/a Art History

Ella Maria Diaz has published Flying Under the Radar with the Royal Chicano Air Force Mapping a Chicano/a Art History (University of Texas Press). In the first in-depth study of the RCAF and their work since 1970 combining art, community engagement and activism, Diaz explores how the RCAF questioned and countered artistic conventions in the U.S. and Mexico, and the significant contributions of women in the collective amid the patriarchal norms within the Chicano movement. She also details the RCAF members’ artistic work and how their verbal and visual language of Chicano/a signs, symbols and texts led to scholarship and theoretical advances in the 1990s and after.

Guisela Latorre, Ohio State University, author of Walls of Empowerment: Chicana/o Indigenist Murals of California, states that this book is “A work of meticulous and rigorous scholarship! This book offers numerous original intellectual paradigms that can help scholars and students alike to think about the Royal Chicano Air Force and also about the work of other artists of color who engage in activist praxes through creative expression. Community artists, activists, and individuals seeking to learn about socially engaged and politically driven art will gain much from Ella Maria Diaz’s unique vision of the RCAF.”



Flying Under the Radar with the Royal Chicano Air Force Mapping a Chicano/a Art…

A New Approach to Migrant Labor Rights Enforcement: The Crisis of Undocumented Worker Abuse and Mexican Consular Advocacy in the United States

This paper offers a critical assessment of one of the clearest examples of transnational labor advocacy through diplomatic institutions: the role of the Mexican consulate in supporting labor rights enforcement in the United States. The Mexican immigrant population is the largest national origin group in the United States today, comprising nearly a third of all immigrants and the majority of the undocumented (Passel and Cohn 2009). While immigrants from Mexico have a long history of labor migration to the United States, and have tended to settle in traditional immigrant destination states in the Southwest, they are increasingly moving to “new destinations” in the South and Midwest (Batalova 2008). Mexican migrants have become structurally embedded into the economic structure of the U.S. labor market (Cornelius 1998) and created transnational social networks that continue to facilitate a culture of migration in many sending communities (Adler Hellman 2008; Smith 2006; Stephen 2007). Many Mexican migrants are recently arrived, have low levels of human capital, and are limited English proficient. Mexican migrants are often concentrated in “bad jobs” (Kalleberg 2011), characterized by low pay, few benefits, high levels of workplace violation, and little government oversight (Bernhardt et al. 2008).

A New Approach to Migrant Labor Rights Enforcement The Crisis of Undocumented …

Music in Mexico: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture

The complex legacy of Mexico's ethnic past and geographic location have shaped the country and its culture. In Music in Mexico, Alejandro L. Madrid uses extensive fieldwork, interviews with performers, eyewitness accounts of performances, and vivid illustrations to guide students through modern-day music practices. Applying three themes-ethnic identity, migration, and media influences-the text explores the music that Mexicans grow up listening to and shows how these traditions are the result of long-standing transnational dialogues. Packaged with a 40-minute audio CD containing musical examples, the text features numerous listening activities that engage students with the music.

Music in Mexico: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture

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Handbook of Latinos and Education: Theory, Research, and Practice

Providing a comprehensive review of rigorous, innovative, and critical scholarship relevant to educational issues which impact Latinos, this Handbook captures the field at this point in time. Its unique purpose and function is to profile the scope and terrain of academic inquiry on Latinos and education. Presenting the most significant and potentially influential work in the field in terms of its contributions to research, to professional practice, and to the emergence of related interdisciplinary studies and theory, the volume is organized around five themes:

  • history, theory, and methodology

  • policies and politics

  • language and culture

  • teaching and learning

  • resources and information.

Centro, Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies states that "This edited volume is a very extensive and detailed compilation of historical and current scholarship about the education of Latinos in the United States. The list of nearly one hundred contributors reads like a 'Who’s Who' in the field of Latino studies in general, and Latino education in particular.


Handbook of Latinos and Education

Extinct Lands, Temporal Geographies: Chicana Literature and the Urgency of Space

A train station becomes a police station; lands held sacred by Apaches and Mexicanos are turned into commercial and residential zones; freeway construction hollows out a community; a rancho becomes a retirement community—these are the kinds of spatial transformations that concern Mary Pat Brady in Extinct Lands, Temporal Geographies, a book bringing together Chicana feminism, cultural geography, and literary theory to analyze an unusual mix of Chicana texts through the concept of space. Beginning with nineteenth-century short stories and essays and concluding with contemporary fiction, this book reveals how Chicana literature offers a valuable theoretics of space.

Rafael Pérez-Torres, author of Movements in Chicano Poetry: Against Myths, Against Margins states that "Extinct Lands, Temporal Geographies is an outstanding work that reveals the connection between Chicana bodies, literary texts, and geopolitical space. It offers a conceptual framework based on theories of spatialization that provide a greater understanding of what Chicana writing does and why it is significant to our understanding of contemporary U.S. culture. Nobody else does what Mary Pat Brady does so well here."

Extinct Lands, Temporal Geographies: Chicana Literature and the Urgency of Space

Border Women: Writing from La Frontera

Border Women rethinks border theory by emphasizing women writers whose work—in Spanish, English, or a mixture of the two languages—calls into question accepted notions of border identities. These writers include those who are already well recognized internationally (Helena María Viramontes, Sheila and Sandra Ortiz Taylor, and María Novaro); those who have become part of the Chicano canon (Norma Cantú, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, and Demetria Martínez); along with some of the lesser-known, yet most exciting, women’s voices from the Mexican border (Rosario Sanmiguel, Rosina Conde, and Regina Swain).

South Central Review states that Border Women is a significant contribution to U.S.-Mexico border studies, and to gender studies as well. It places emphasis on the cultural richness of the border region through the reading of the original and provocative voices of its women.


Border Women: Writing from La Frontera

Medicalizing Ethnicity: The Construction of Latino Identity in a Psychiatric Setting

In Medicalizing Ethnicity, Vilma Santiago-Irizarry shows how commendable intentions can produce unintended consequences. Santiago-Irizarry conducted ethnographic fieldwork in three bilingual, bicultural psychiatric programs for Latino patients at public mental health facilities in New York City. The introduction of "cultural sensitivity" in mental health clinics, she concludes, led doctors to construct essentialized, composite versions of Latino ethnicity in their drive to treat mental illness with sensitivity.

The author demonstrates that stressing Latino differences when dealing with patients resulted not in empowerment, as intended, but in the reassertion of Anglo-American standards of behavior in the guise of psychiatric categories by which Latino culture was negatively defined. For instance, doctors routinely translated their patients' beliefs in the Latino religious traditions of espiritismo and Santería into psychiatric terms, thus treating these beliefs as pathologies.

Noorfarah Merali, University of Alberta. Journal of International Migration and Integration states that "The major strength of this book is the high level of critical analysis demonstrated by the application of an anthropological perspective to the field of mental health. . . . This book represents an important contribution to the conceptualization and incorporation of culture in the field of mental health."


Medicalizing Ethnicity: The Construction of Latino Identity in a Psychiatric Se…