Adelaida R. Del Castillo, Editor. Between Borders: Essays On Mexicana/Chicana History. ISBN 0915745186. 560 pgs. Includes biblio $38.95.
The most comprehensive and complete original history of U.S. Latinas of Mexican descent written by an outstanding team of Mexican and U.S. scholars and based on copious documentary sources from both countries. Between Borders has been hailed by the scholarly review media as "the most important piece of original research on Mexicana/ Chicana ever published." This collection of essays is a smashing success in terms of organization, presentation, significance of content, and theoretical approach. The essays reflect the maturation of the field in the 1980's. In keeping with the bilingual/bicultural tenor of Chicano Studies, contributions written in Spanish are presented in their original form, prefaced with abstracts in English. The book underscores the benefits of international exchanges in Chicano Studies and in the history of Mexican women on both sides of the border. Addressed here are the historical significance of gender, class, culture, and ethnicity. Collected here are twenty-five essays by an international group of scholars who discuss methods, content and critical theoretical concerns of Chicana historiography to date. Together these writings comprise an unprecedented collection of Mexican women in the United States. Part I examines theoretical approaches useful to Chicana history and argues important distinctions between Chicana and women's in general. Part II follows with a discussion on method and sources for Chicana historiography and draws on colonial census data as well as archival material, oral history and literature as historical sources. Part III turns to the discussion of undocumented female labor in the United States and clandestine garment workers. Part IV examines the impact of gender ideology, patriarchal structures and feminist activism.
This anthology includes a bibliography with over 500 interdisciplinary citations important to Chicana/Mexicana studies. Strongly recommended for courses in Ethnic studies and women's history. Beginning in the early 1960s and through the 1980s, the writings by Adelaida Del Castillo, Marta Cotera, Francisca Flores, Dorinda Moreno, Anna Nieto Gómez, Bernice Rincón, Enriqueta Longeaux y Vásquez, and others reveal the tensions and contradictions that they were experiencing as women of color participating in both a nationalist movement and the larger American society. Chicana feminists struggled to gain social equality and put an end to sexist and racist oppression. Like black and Asian-American feminists, Chicana feminists struggled to gain equal status in a male-dominated movement. Their writings addressed a variety of specific concerns, including educational inequalities, occupational segregation, poverty, lack of adequate child care, welfare rights, prison reform, health care, and reforms in the legal system. They also supported the right of women to control their own bodies and mobilized around the struggle for reproductive rights. Chicanas believed that feminism involved more than an analysis of gender because, as women of color, they were affected by both race and class in their everyday lives. Chicana feminism, as a social movement to improve the position of Chicanas in American society, represented a struggle that was both nationalist and feminist.
By the late 1970s a small group of Chicanas entered the academy in a variety of disciplines and continued a Chicana feminist discourse within academic publishing outlets. Melville’s Twice a Minority (1980) and Magdalena Mora’s and Adelaida R. Del Castillo’s Between Borders remain classic anthologies that document the struggles of Chicanas. Chicana feminist writings contain common threads. They called for a critique of Chicano cultural nationalism, an examination of patriarchal relations, an end to sexist stereotypes of Chicanas, and the need for Chicanas to engage in consciousness-raising activities and collective political mobilization.