Chicana/os in the Academic Culture: Still Struggling for Inclusion and Voice

By Adalberto Aguirre Jr. and Rubén O. Martinez


Colleges and universities reflect and represent the hierarchical relations between the socially constructed racial groups in society and tend to perpetuate those relations in the production of knowledge and in the contested terrain of academic freedom. This article focuses on the struggles of Chicana/os in the academy as descendants of a militarily conquered people that persists as a subordinated population in the United States. The academic freedom of Chicana/os is examined principally through the struggle for and establishment of Chicana/o studies programs and departments. The presence of Chicana/os in colleges and universities set in motion a struggle over academic freedom as they demanded voice and legitimacy within the academy. Today, that struggle occurs in the context of authoritarian movements in society that directly attack academic freedom and democracy itself. In the critical discourses that will ensue, the substance of academic freedom must not only be protected but also be made more inclusive, both theoretically and practically.

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