Estrada backs ethnic studies expansion

As part of the week-long “Semana Chicana” sponsored by Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan de Yale, Western Washington University Professor Lawrence Estrada spoke to students and faculty members about “Chicano and Ethnic Studies in the Area of Globalization” Wednesday.

Estrada read a paper he had written for a recent presentation at the Conference on American Ethnic Studies in Istanbul, Turkey to a 20-member audience and discussed the current challenges and goals of Chicano and ethnic studies scholars. He also proposed techniques for making ethnic and Chicano studies a more visible and viable part of the Yale curriculum.

Estrada said Chicanos are being challenged to play a bigger role in the American cultural landscape because of current stereotypes and cultural standards.

“As Chicanos, we are witnessing ‘post-Ricky Martin, Christina Aguilera syndrome,’” Estrada said. “[We're seeing] the loss of governmental support for bilingualism [during a] rise in the music industry of Hispanic music.”

Estrada spoke about what he called the menace of uniformity resulting from globalization.

“Standardization of local culture [in foreign countries] to make way for American music, food, and films is the heart of globalization,” Estrada said.

Exploring different ways of maintaining local diversity in the 21st century, Estrada next mentioned possible safeguards against the negative effects of globalization. Among the safeguards mentioned were the standards of countries like Brazil and France, which require a certain percentage of their media to be locally created.

Estrada said the solution lies in “institutional diversity,” which he said should be a goal of Chicano and ethnic studies programs. He concluded his paper with a description of the ideal role for ethnic studies academics.

“The role we might see for ourselves as ethnic scholars is to shed light on the continuing struggles of ethnic minority groups trying to preserve their ways of life,” Estrada said.

Julia Gonzalez ’05 asked Estrada what strategies he suggested for expanding ethnic studies programs on a campus with a limited number of Latino and Chicano students.

Estrada said Yale’s first challenge would be to recruit more faculty.

“I think you have two Latino or Chicano faculty on campus,” Estrada said. “That’s your struggle. You have to start advocating for faculty members. You need people who really have a feeling for ethnic studies or [Chicano] studies.”

MEChA Treasurer Laura Hurtado ’04 said Semana Chicana, which encompasses other talks as well as an East Coast Chicano Student Forum this weekend, is intended to make ethnic studies a more central part of the Yale experience.

“The goal of the week is looking at Chicano studies and ethnic studies programs, trying to get a better understanding of what needs to be done [for Yale] to get a program,” Hurtado said.

Professor Lawrence Estrada, sitting next to Cathy de la Aguilera '04, delivers a MEChA talk on
Ashley Hemmers
Professor Lawrence Estrada, sitting next to Cathy de la Aguilera '04, delivers a MEChA talk on "Chicano and Ethnic Studies in the Era of Globalization" Wednesday at La Casa Cultural.

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