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    Valdez, Luis
    Introduction: "La Plebe" / by Luis Valdez
    Aztlan : an anthology of Mexican American literature. -- New York : Vintage Books, 1972.
    p. xiii-xxxiv
    Book/pamphlet article – Essays
    Valdez, Luis. "Introduction: 'La Plebe'." In Aztlan: an anthology of Mexican American literature, edited by Luis Valdez and Stan Steiner, xiii-xxxiv. New York: Vintage Books, 1972.
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In this document, Luis Valdez argues that as inheritors of a colonized consciousness, it is difficult for Chicano writers to articulate a cohesive cultural identity. He suggests that this difficulty can perhaps be negotiated through an embrace of the indigenous heritage to which he argues all Chicanos can lay claim. He details the roots of this heritage and its manifestations in certain foods, healing devices, and religious practices that appear in contemporary Chicano society. Valdez traces Chicano history from the initial moment of contact between indigenous Americans and their European conquerors in 1521, to the events preceding and following the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in 1848 by means of which Mexico lost an immense territory from California to Texas, to the Revolution of 1910, and many others historically related events.


Luis Valdez (b. 1940) is a playwright, director and founder of El Teatro Campesino, which he started as a means to support the unionizing efforts of the United Farm Workers in 1965. He is also a former professor at University of California, Berkeley, and California State University, Monterey Bay. This essay served as the introduction to the book Aztlan: An Anthology of Mexican American Literature, a foundational publication that brought together multiple perspectives and an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the burgeoning Chicano movement. Though the central focus of the essay is to highlight the long history of the Chicano community in an effort to underscore the legitimacy of its claims to sovereignty within the United States, more importantly, it is one of the earliest arguments for a continental “American” perspective and a succinct articulation of a Pan Latino tenet within the Chicano Movement.

Tere Romo
Chicano Studies Research Center, UCLA, Los Angeles, USA
Courtesy of the Private Archives of Luis Valdez and El Teatro Campesino, San Juan Bautista, CA