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25-10-2021

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Chicano Literature

Chicano Literature


Chicano literature, or Mexican-American literature, refers to literature written by Chicanos in the United States. Although its origins can be traced back to the sixteenth century, the bulk of Chicano literature dates from after the 1848 United States annexation of large parts of Mexico in the wake of the Mexican–American War. Today, this genre includes a vibrant and diverse set of narratives, prompting critics to describe it as providing "a new awareness of the historical and cultural independence of both northern and southern American hemispheres".


Chicano literature also has a racial dynamic; some Mexican-Americans define themselves as mestizo, people with a mixture of primarily indigenous and European heritage, while others fit within the Hispano demographics of people with primarily European heritage. African-descended Mexicans also contribute to this field, with the last governor of Alta California, Pío Pico, having African heritage. There are also people who do not fit easily in these definitions, such as Josefina Niggli, whose parents were Euro-Americans living in Mexico when she was born.





Chicano or Mexican-American writing includes those works in which writers' sense of ethnic identity or chicanismo animates their work fundamentally, often through the presentation of Chicano characters, cultural situations, and speech patterns. "Chicano" refers to a person of Mexican descent in North America, compared to "Latino", which refers to those with cultural ties to Latin America more broadly. Cultural roots are important to Chicanos, many of whom celebrate historical practices such as the Day of the Dead Chicanos often adopted a dual culture in the 20th century; they speak English and adapt to U.S. culture, but are influenced by their Mexican heritage. They have been targeted racially since 1848 and often responded by rejecting the label "brown" throughout history when being "white" was dominant.





Historically, literature has faced gender gaps, and Chicano literature is no exception, with more male writers recorded than women. "Machismo", a sense of overt masculinity, is often cited as part of the reason that Chicana voices have historically been silenced. During El Movimiento, in which Chicanos were fighting for social and civil rights in the United States, several Chicana writers began to write, forming an important part of the movement.  By 1900, according to critic Raymund Paredes, "Mexican American literature had emerged as a distinctive part of the literary culture of the United States."





Chicano literature tends to focus on themes of identity, discrimination, and border culture, with an emphasis on validating Mexican-American culture or Chicano culture in the United States. It is often associated with the social justice and cultural claims of the Chicano movement. Other notable themes include the experience of migration and living between two languages. Chicano literature may be written in either English or Spanish or even a combination of the two often referred to as Spanglish. Chicano culture has often been politically focused on the question of the border, and how Chicanos straddle or cross that border.


Traveling across the border is becoming an important topic as the Mexican population is growing in regions close to the border, such as Texas and California. Mexican migration to the U.S. is causing an increase in literature for labor workers and studies of the Mexican-American Culture. The motivational force of Mexicans traveling across the border is viewed as an opportunity to increase their capital and expand their opportunities.

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