By: Richard Cruz Davila

In their introduction to Chicana Movidas, editors Cotera, Blackwell, and Espinoza contend that conventional histories of social movements often emphasize the “major” events, figures, and organizations, at the expense of “‘minor’ strategies and tactics embedded within and between larger movements” (p. 3). They thus seek to shift focus from “movements” to “movidas.” As Cotera, Blackwell, and Espinoza note, the term “movida,” or “move,” carries multiple connotations including “the strategic and tactical but also the undercover, the dissident, the illicit—that which is not part of approved and publicly acknowledged political strategies, histories, and economic and social relations” (p. 2). Occurring in marginal spaces—“backrooms and bedrooms, hallways and kitchens”—movidas are “collective and individual maneuvers, undertaken in a context of social mobilization, that seek to work within, around, and between the positionings, ideologies, and practices of publicly visible social relations” (p. 2). Seeking to uncover the “minor” strategies and tactics employed by Chicanas in the movement era, the essays in Chicana Movidas “track an archive of resistance to reveal a broader women of color praxis articulated and mobilized in and between the movements, actions, and organizations that have come to define in retrospect the political narratives of the 1960s and 1970s” (p. 2).
   Chicana Movidas is divided into four sections that map “interconnected and overlapping sites of struggle and resistance” (p. 12). The first section, “Hallway Movidas,” uses the metaphor of marginal spaces such as hallways and kitchens to consider “movidas undertaken within and between movements that did not always address the full array of issues impacting women of color” (p. 12). For instance, Anna NietoGomez documents the early history of Chicana activism through the case of Francisca Flores, whose efforts beginning in the late-1950s brought visibility to Chicana issues and led to the formation of important organizations such as the League of Mexican American Women and the Comisión Femenil. In the first of several essays that expand the geographical scope beyond the Southwest, Leticia Wiggins details the history behind the 1972 Adelante Mujer conference in South Bend, IN, organized partially in response to women’s exclusion from the agenda-setting process of the 1972 Mi Raza Primero conference in Muskegon, MI.
The second section, “Home-Making Movidas,” considers the ways by which Chicanas tried to make “space for Chicana feminism to live and develop” (p. 12), including “both [Chicanas’] organizing work within existing Chicano movement projects and their efforts to create separate and independent Chicana institutions” (p. 16). Blackwell’s essay on Chicana visual artist Ester Hernández, as well as her interview with Chicana lesbiana filmmaker and poet Osa Hidalgo de la Riva, address the role of aesthetics in home-making movidas. Other essays in this section consider “Chicana institution-building movidas” (p. 19) through the examples of El Centro de la Raza in Seattle, WA, Radio KDNA in Washington’s Yakima Valley, the East Los Angeles Welfare Rights Organization, and the Chicana Research and Learning Center in Austin, TX.
“Movidas of Crossing” traces Chicana movidas “between, beyond, and across multiple borders, including those of nationalisms, cultures, social movements, nation-states, histories, languages, and group identities” in pursuit of social justice (p. 21). Alejandra Marchevsky, for instance, documents the sometimes tense coalitional efforts of Chicanas and African American women organizing for welfare rights in Los Angeles. Other essays in this section consider the development of Chicana/third world woman identities through the examples of Chicana activists Elizabeth “Betita” Martínez, María Jiménez, and Olga Talamante, as well as the participation of Chicanas at the 1971 Indochinese Women’s Conference in Vancouver, Canada.
The final section, “Memory Movidas,” considers the use of collective memory “to forge new political spaces and identities for [Chicanas], mobilizing practices of countermemory (either collective or personal) to highlight the unique perspective of subjects at the intersection of multiple oppressions” (p. 24). Chapters from Cotera and Marisela R. Chávez consider the possibilities and limitations of archives in recovering and preserving Chicana memory. Chapters from Deanna Romero and Inés Hernández-Ávila employ memoir/testimonio to tackle questions of intersectionality: for Romero, her negotiation of Chicana womanhood and queer identity, and incorporating spiritual practices into her work as a healthcare professional; for Hernández-Ávila her work as an activist and scholar moving “within and between Chicano and indigenous communities” (p. 27).
Chicana Movidas is an excellent collection that deepens our understanding of the vital but often unacknowledged roles of Chicanas in the Chicano and Women’s movements, as well as the processes by which Chicanas developed their own praxis of resistance that challenged their marginalization in both movements. The collection offers a strong mix of scholarly research and first-person accounts of movement activity that creatively confronts the absence or invisibility of Chicanas in movement archives, in the process greatly expanding the archive and becoming an invaluable resource for future researchers. A further strength of the collection is its geographic range; true to its emphasis on Chicana praxis on the periphery of social movements, multiple essays are dedicated to activity in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, areas often treated as peripheral to the Southwest in movement historiography. The book is highly recommended for both researchers and students interested in the history of the Chicano movement and women of color feminisms.