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Celebrando Cultura 2023: Spotlight on Trailblazing Latinas

Posted in Collections, display, Event, and outreach

Each year from September 15 to October 15, we get together and observe Latinx Heritage Month to celebrate the contributions of Latinx Americans. During this time, the CSUN University Library honors the lived experiences and cultural history of those with ancestries typically from Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. The time period of Latinx Heritage Month is significant because it includes the independence days of several Latin American countries.  For instance, Central Americans in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua have the same Independence Day, that is, September 15. While Mexicans celebrate their Independence Day on September 16, Chileans observe the anniversary of their independence on September 18. Additionally, Día de la Raza, formerly known as Columbus Day, falls on October 12. Instead of celebrating Columbus’s arrival, observers of Día de la Raza honor the indigenous peoples of Latin America.

For this year’s 2023 observation of Celebrando Cultura, we have put the spotlight on trailblazing Latinas. Our University Library is proud to commemorate the many contributions that Latinas have made in the United States, particularly within music, education, literature, cinema, activism, science, and groundbreaking research and discoveries. In celebration of Latinas poderosas, we invite you to attend an upcoming campus event, an Evening with Ellen Ochoa. CSUN will welcome Ellen Ochoa, a groundbreaker like no other. She made history as the first Latina to go to space, blazing a trail for other marginalized kids who dream of the stars. There were few underrepresented groups in leadership when she joined NASA—so she changed that, becoming the first Latina and second woman director of the Johnson Space Center. There will be two sessions on September 28, 2023:

  • 3:00 to 3:45 pm: for visiting students from local middle and high schools. Location: USU Northridge Center (This session of the event is full).
  • 4:00 to 5:30pm: for the general CSUN community and guests. Location: USU Grand Salon (This session of the event is full).

Learn more and register to attend here.

Watch the video “Untold. Ellen Ochoa : The First Female Hispanic Astronaut (2022)”

Below, you will find a selection of eBooks freely available through the University Library that explore and reflect upon the history and contemporary experiences of Latinx communities, and celebrate their rich cultures and traditions. For even more books uplifting Latinx voices and experiences, be sure to visit our book display in the library’s lobby on the first floor.

Latina Legacies : Identity, Biography, and Community (2005) by Vicki L. Ruiz and Virginia Sánchez Korrol

Latina Legacies - Identity, Biography and Community. Edited by Vicki L. Ruiz and Virginia Sanchez Korrol.

“Spanning two centuries, this collection documents the lives of fifteen remarkable Latinas who witnessed, defined, defied, and wrote about the forces that shaped their lives. As entrepreneurs, community activists, mystics, educators, feminists, labor organizers, artists and entertainers, Latinas used the power of the pen to traverse and transgress cultural conventions.”

Dance and the Hollywood Latina: Race, Sex, and Stardom (2010) by Priscilla Peña Ovalle

Dance and the Hollywood Latina - Race, Sex, and Stardom. Priscilla Peña Ovalle.

“Introducing the concepts of “inbetween-ness” and “racial mobility” to further illuminate how racialized sexuality and the dancing female body operate in film, Priscilla Peña Ovalle focuses on the careers of Dolores Del Rio, Rita Hayworth, Carmen Miranda, Rita Moreno, and Jennifer Lopez. Dance and the Hollywood Latina helps readers better understand how the United States grapples with race, gender, and sexuality through dancing bodies on screen.”

Theories of the Flesh: Latinx and Latin American Feminisms, Transformation, and Resistance (2019) by Andrea J. Pitts, Mariana Ortega, Jose Medina

Theories of the Flesh - Latinx and Latin American Feminisms, Transformation, and Resistance. Edited by Andrea J. Pitts, Mariana Ortega, and Jose Medina.

“This is not a survey or ‘introductory’ text, but a rich and vibrant engagement with and expansion of that set of developing traditions gathered under the rubric of Latinx and Latin American feminisms. As such, and drawing together as it does a wide generational and international spectrum of thinkers, Theories of the Flesh is on the cutting edge of profound and important interventions in philosophy and feminist theory. This is a truly important collection that will, in due course, come to stand as a watershed moment in the ongoing efforts (movidas) by Latinx and Latin American feminists to shift the geography of reason.” – American Philosophical Association Newsletter

Chicana Movidas : New Narratives of Activism and Feminism in the Movement Era (2018) edited by Dionne Espinoza, María Eugenia Cotera, Maylei Blackwell

Edited by Dionne Espinoza, Maria Eugenia Cotera, Maylei Blackwell. Chicana Movidas - New Narratives of Activism and Feminism in the Movement Era.

“With contributions from a wide array of scholars and activists, including leading Chicana feminists from the period, this groundbreaking anthology is the first collection of scholarly essays and testimonios that focuses on Chicana organizing, activism, and leadership in the movement years. The essays in Chicana Movidas: New Narratives of Activisim and Feminism in the Movement Era demonstrate how Chicanas enacted a new kind of politica at the intersection of race, class, gender, and sexuality, and developed innovative concepts, tactics, and methodologies that in turn generated new theories, art forms, organizational spaces, and strategies of alliance.”

In-Between: Latina Feminist Phenomenology, Multiplicity, and the Self (2016) by Mariana Ortega

In-Between - Latina Feminist Phenomenology, Multiplicity, and the Self. Mariana Ortega.

“This original study intertwining Latina feminism, existential phenomenology, and race theory offers a new philosophical approach to understanding selfhood and identity. Focusing on writings by Gloría Anzaldúa, María Lugones, and Linda Martín Alcoff, Mariana Ortega articulates a phenomenology that introduces a conception of selfhood as both multiple and singular. Her Latina feminist phenomenological approach can account for identities belonging simultaneously to different worlds, including immigrants, exiles, and inhabitants of borderlands. Ortega’s project forges new directions not only in Latina feminist thinking on such issues as borders, mestizaje, marginality, resistance, and identity politics, but also connects this analysis to the existential phenomenology of Martin Heidegger and to such concepts as being-in-the-world, authenticity, and intersubjectivity.”

Woman Hollering Creek, and Other stories (1991) by Sandra Cisneros

Sandra Cisneros. Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories.

“A collection of stories by Sandra Cisneros, the celebrated bestselling author of The House on Mango Street and the winner of the 2019 PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature. The lovingly drawn characters of these stories give voice to the vibrant and varied life on both sides of the Mexican border with tales of pure discovery, filled with moments of infinite and intimate wisdom.”

The Undocumented Americans (2020) by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

The Undocumented Americans. Karla Cornejo Villavicencio.

“Writer Karla Cornejo Villavicencio was on DACA when she decided to write about being undocumented for the first time using her own name. It was right after the election of 2016, the day she realized the story she’d tried to steer clear of was the only one she wanted to tell. So she wrote her immigration lawyer’s phone number on her hand in Sharpie and embarked on a trip across the country to tell the stories of her fellow undocumented immigrants—and to find the hidden key to her own.”

The Distance Between Us : A Memoir (2013) by Reyna Grande

The Distance Between Us. Reyna Grande.

“When Reyna Grande’s father leaves his wife and three children behind in a village in Mexico to make the dangerous trek across the border to the United States, he promises he will soon return from ‘El Otro Lado’ (The Other Side) with enough money to build them a dream house where they can all live together. His promises become harder to believe as months turn into years. When he summons his wife to join him, Reyna and her siblings are deposited in the already overburdened household of their stern, unsmiling grandmother. The three siblings are forced to look out for themselves; in childish games they find a way to forget the pain of abandonment and learn to solve very adult problems. When their mother at last returns, the reunion sets the stage for a dramatic new chapter in Reyna’s young life: her own journey to ‘El Otro Lado’ to live with the man who has haunted her imagination for years, her long-absent father.”

Black Dove : Mama, Mi’jo, and Me (2016) by Ana Castillo

Ana Castillo. Black Dove - Mama, Mi'jo, and Me

Black Dove: Mamá, Mi’jo, and Me looks at what it means to be a single, brown, feminist parent in a world of mass incarceration, racial profiling, and police brutality. Through startling humor and love, Castillo weaves intergenerational stories traveling from Mexico City to Chicago. And in doing so, she narrates some of America’s most heated political debates and urgent social injustices through the oft-neglected lens of motherhood and family.”

Violence Girl : East L.A. Rage to Hollywood Stage : A Chicana Punk Story (2011) by Alice Bag

East L. A. Rage to Hollywood Stage - A Chicana Punk Story - Voilence Girl. Alice Bag

“The proximity of the East L.A. barrio to Hollywood is as close as a short drive on the 101 freeway, but the cultural divide is enormous. Born to Mexican-born and American-naturalized parents, Alicia Armendariz migrated a few miles west to participate in the free-range birth of the 1970s punk movement. Alicia adopted the punk name Alice Bag, and became lead singer for The Bags, early punk visionaries who starred in Penelope Spheeris’ documentary.” -The Decline of Western Civilization.