Reconfigured Spheres: Feminist Explorations of Literary Space

By Margaret R. Higonnet; Joan Templeton | Go to book overview

Sites of Struggle: Immigration, Deportation, Prison, and Exile

BARBARA HARLOW

In her 1977 essay "The Chicana Labor Force," Rosaura Sánchez presents an analysis of the recent history of Mexican American working women and examines the consequences of such an analysis for rethinking the interference of issues of race and class in the construction of a women's movement in the United States. The place of Chicana laborers in the field and within the family, followed by their subsequent displacement in the process of urbanization, provokes a further critique of traditional family and kinship structures and the differentials of ethnicity that can be enlisted both in the service of and in resistance to capitalism and patriarchy. Sánchez concludes her analysis of the Chicana labor force, however, by addressing herself to Chicanas in the academy: "It is imperative that those few Chicano women attaining professional status or higher education recognize the low economic status of the majority of Chicano women and identify with their struggle rather than with feminist middle-class aspirations, for most of us Chicano women have working-class roots."1

The emphasis on class differences within the Chicana constituency and the attendant need to organize around the issues of working-class women is established in Sánchez's essay on the grounds of "identity," the "working-class roots" of "most Chicano women." Chicana feminism in its development over the last decade, and through the internal debates it has waged over identity and categories of gender, sexual orientation, race, and class, thus becomes exemplary in important ways for the history of the U.S. women's movement more generally. Not only has it become necessary, that is, to "identify with" with other struggles--on an individual or personal level, or even on the basis of "roots"--but furthermore to participate ac

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