Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

The Tejano Diaspora: Mexican Americanism and Ethnic Politics in Texas and Wisconsin

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

The Tejano Diaspora: Mexican Americanism and Ethnic Politics in Texas and Wisconsin

Article excerpt

The Tejano Diaspora: Mexican Americanism and Ethnic Politics in Texas and Wisconsin. By Marc Simon Rodriguez. (Chapel Hill: Published by University of North Carolina Press in association with the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University, c. 2011. Pp. xviii, 238. $39.95, ISBN 978-0-8078-3464-0.)

The Tejano Diaspora: Mexican Americanism and Ethnic Politics in Texas and Wisconsin brings new insight to the Chicano movement by examining it from a new perspective--namely, the "circular migration" of Mexican Americans between south Texas and Wisconsin in the mid-twentieth century (p. 62). Marc Simon Rodriguez follows Tejano migrants between Crystal City, Texas, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, documenting political organizing from labor disputes in cucumber harvesting to student boycotts over homecoming, to show how a translocal world of Tejano labor laid the groundwork for a wider Mexican American political awakening. Examining both successes and shortcomings in these political efforts, Rodriguez argues that through their own diasporic lives, Mexican American migrants combined a politics of ethnic inclusion grounded in post-World War II Texas and a politics of pragmatic reform grounded in Wisconsin's labor history to form what became the Chicano movement.

Tejano Diaspora starts in Crystal City in the 1950s. Chapter 1 describes Mexican Americans' efforts to challenge their social and political marginalization in Crystal City by tapping postwar discourses of Americanism and the negative Anglo responses to such efforts. Chapter 2 examines the role of schools in politicizing a new generation of Mexican Americans in the early 1960s and the struggles of "'Los Cinco,' an 'all-Latin' slate" elected to Crystal City's city council in 1963 (p. 46). Following the Tejano diaspora, chapter 3 details Wisconsin's role in the national farmworkers' movement of the late 1960s, highlighting the tensions between national and local labor organizations and the difficulties Tejano activists faced in maintaining an independent labor union. …

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