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.
Mexican-American scholar Tomás Ybarra-Frausto defines the Mexican concept of rasquache [crummy] for both Chicano and non-Mexican readers and presents it (with some humor) for the conceptualization of a Chicano artistic sensibility. Defined as the perspective of the “underdog,” an important element of this theory is Ybarra-Frausto’s positioning of rasquachismo as also a form of resistance incorporating strategies of appropriation, reversal, and inversion. For Ybarra-Frausto, rasquachismo codifies all Chicano cultural production, including theatre, literature, and visual art. In addition, Ybarra-Frausto declares that while Mexican vernacular rasquache traditions may inform Chicano art, the rasquachismo that has evolved in the United States is a “bicultural sensibility.” It is a theory that reflects his training as a scholar and Stanford professor of literature, along with his early and longstanding interest in visual arts. Currently, he lives in San Antonio, Texas.
Tomás Ybarra-Frausto is an academic who has provided leadership in the area of Chicano art since the 1970s and who has influenced subsequent generations of scholars. Though developed by Ybarra-Frausto in the mid-1980s, this is the first published version of this seminal essay. Rasquachismo was later reprinted in the 1991 exhibition catalogue, Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation (CARA) and retitled, Rasquachismo: A Chicano Sensibility. In his incorporation of popular cultural expressions, Ybarra-Frausto set the stage for other scholars to expand upon this pivotal essay and investigate the inherent tension between the public and private sphere within Chicano (and later, Chicana) art. It is also one of the first essays to articulate the hybrid nature of Chicano art. Other Chicano scholars have revisited the concept more recently, including Ramón Garcia in Against Rasquache: Chicano Identity and the Politics of Popular Culture in Los Angeles, 1998, and Amalia Mesa-Bains in Domesticana: The Sensibility of Chicana Resquache, 1999.