The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In this text, Tomás Ybarra-Frausto offers a history of Chicano cultural production from the 1960s to the 1990s, including the visual arts, music, literature, theater, and the history of community-based cultural institutions. He describes the changes in Chicano art in the 1970s as a turn toward individual artistic experimentation and a decreased activity in large-scale and communal works and also the changes that took place in the 1980s with the increased visibility of differences in class, sexual orientation, and regional provenance in Chicano cultural production. Ybarra-Frausto reviews the Chicano relationship to Mexico and analyzes the tensions that underlie many Mexicans’s dismissive view of Chicano culture that he says, can be attributed in part to the class bias of Mexican artistic and literary elites. In the final section, he discusses how Latinos are reinventing their “traditions” and redefining their cultural theories based on their unique biculturality.
Tomás Ybarra-Frausto is an academic and cultural critic who has provided leadership in the area of Chicano art scholarship since the 1970s and who has influenced subsequent generations of disciples. In this essay derived from an interview with the publication editors while still at the Rockefeller Foundation, Ybarra-Frausto covers a range of issues underlining the development of Chicano art: gender inequality, sexual preference discrimination, cooptation of diversity by mainstream institutions, and the Chicano relationship to Mexico. Aside from the valuable historical outline, Ybarra-Frausto positions the Chicano Movement and its impact within the larger multicultural discourse of the United States, including its connections to other “Latino” groups, such as Nuyoricans (Puerto Ricans in New York). He advocates that all Latinos move beyond the rhetoric of marginality to empowerment based on the bicultural position and vernacular sources, which he believes are cultural assets. For its historical insight and detailed documentation of the issues, Ybarra-Frausto’s essay is a significant contribution toward understanding the first two decades of Chicano art as it gained greater national visibility and became international in scope.