The Department of Chicana/o Studies
Spring 1969, at the height of the Chicano Renaissance, a group of Chican@ activists and intellectuals met on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara and prepared the foundational document "El Plan de Santa Bárbara." Inspired by their own culture and communities, these men and women generated an educational model for institutions of higher learning intended to be more responsive to Chican@s and to provide a bridge for a new generation of Chican@s to higher education. "El Plan de Santa Bárbara" recognized the central role of knowledge and representation in power structures and in producing real social change. "El Plan" provided inspiration for the formation of the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies at UCSB and it continues to exert a profound influence on the discipline here.
What does “Chicana/o” mean?
The terms “Chicana” and "Chicano" have been mobilized to inspire new political identities for the peoples of this hemisphere who have been impacted by waves of coloniality since 1492. In the US, these peoples fought against the low opportunity conditions to which they were confined because of their colonized “races,” “nationalities,” “ethnicities” and “cultures.”
During the 1960s, term “Chicano” was worked for and used by Filipinos and Mexican peoples who were born in the US as well as by Mexican immigrants to the US, and some Native Americans. Less well known today, is that the term was even adopted by many others who included Indigenous/Hispan@s, Mestizos, Central and Latin Americans, Afro-Latinos, Black, and Asian peoples. And as the great philosopher Gloria Anzaldúa points out, the term was adopted even by some Anglos who understood and who worked toward the state of decoloniality that the name “Chican@” still summons up.
For many today, being a member of the Chicanidad means to ascribe above all else to a decolonizing state of being bent on re-membering or reinventing into new combinations the liberatory aspects of cultures, languages, politics and economies once present in this hemisphere and elsewhere. The discipline of Chican@ Studies seeks to undo colonizing approaches to all areas of life. In doing so, our department challenges common sense notions, perceptions and enactments of race/gender/sexuality/economics/Pedagogy/Law/government and Consciousness itself.
Taking root at UCSB in institutional form motivated by the Chican@ Movements and Civil Rights Movements of the 1960s, Department of Chican@ Studies scholars, staff and students continue to work for social justice locally and around the world.