Why “Chicana” Bloggers?

By js, 23 October, 2008, 5 Comments

Like with any research project, I had a personal interest in finding these bloggers.

When I first started searching, I used the term Chicana or Chicano. This of course led me to many different places or to sites which were dead as I mentioned in a previous post. It also led me to commercial sites.

My interest in answering:

Where are the Chicanas in cyberspace? What are they doing?

was to find others like me. I am a Chicana in cyberspace  and I didn’t know anyone who could provide a connection to others like me.

Now, you may ask, why is that important? what does that have to do with Technical Communication?

As I finished by course work in the Spring and as I decided that I wanted to focus on issues dealing with people of color and cyberspace, I knew that I needed to find a community in and with which to work. I needed to find others who had similar interests and preoccupations. Everyone at Tech has been very supportive, but no one with whom I have been working has been specifically involved with this community. I knew that it fell on my shoulders to look for that community. I knew the community was not in Lubbock (at least not one that I had access to) and it is not in South Texas (not one with the same preoccupations and to which I had access). So I turned to cyberspace to find it. I knew that someone was other there. I just had to figure out a way to find them.

I knew I wanted to use the term “Chicana” because of what that term implies about self-definition and political awareness. I know that there is not guarantee that someone using it will be conscious of what the term implies if considered historically but I knew that there were more chances of finding someone who was conscious of its meaning more so than searching for Hispanic or even Latina. These are terms which are problematic because they do not come from within the community but are labels which come from the outside. Furthermore, they are labels which place everyone with a Spanish-speaking heritage under one category without making distinction for the many cultural and linguistic differences.

I became committed to using the term early on in my research. The idea of self-definition and individual agency was something that I was more interested in exploring.

Using the term “chicana” or “latina” on its own became very problematic. There was too much information, and not anything which seemed promising. Some used the term as a marketing tool to attract consumers. Commercial sites seemed to be taking these terms and exploiting their potential to attract an audience. The sites that I did find that were relevant were all “dead” sites which had not been updated in years.

I used the term “race” which was even more problematic since Google cannot distinguish what definition of race you want to use. I soon realized that it would be difficult to find what I was looking for by using only one word.

Using Becky Rickly’s suggestion I turned to blogs. I searched for “chicana blog” and focused on links which took me into the Chicana Blogosphere.

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5 Responses {+}
  • Jaime Armin Mejía

    Hey JJ,

    Above, you ask, “Now, you may ask, why is that important? what does that have to do with Technical Communication?”

    These are interesting questions, and at some point, it seems to me, you’ll have to define “Technical Communication.” You of course seem to be assuming not only that blogs are a form of technical communication, but that everyone knows that this is the case, that blogs are a form of tech comm.

    I don’t think I’m posing these points to be argumentative. While you may be writing your dissertation for an audience made up of professors of tech comm, you may also want to consider thinking in broader terms, insofar as your audience is concerned, because one of the things you’ll be prompted to do post-dissertation is to publish it. And while you may seek out a publisher which is centered on publications having only to do with tech comm, there no doubt a broader audience made up of people who will be interested in your findings, chief among them, of course, will be members of the Chicana and Chicano academic community as well as those in the rhetoric and composition community.

    Defining tech comm and blogs may well be as important as defining or laying out what you mean by a term like Chicana. I for one do not know what tech comm is, as this term seems to be applied to such diverse kinds of genres that it seems to be almost a catch-all term for kinds of discourse which are not, more broadly speaking, academic. I think you once called blogs online journals, so that blogs have similarities to offline journals, and if this is the case, then your analysis of blogs as well as of Chicana [and Chicano] blogs will need to show how they differ, generically, from old-fashioned journals.

    If you’re already thought about all these kinds of things and simply take these kinds of things for granted, then pardon my ideas, in this respect.

    Another thing that’s occurred to me, with reference to your discussion of terms like Latina, is to go to those magazines which have proliferated the magazine world with names like Latina and such. What I’m thinking is that these “Latina” magazines will probably at least have websites, and these websites will perhaps also have blogs by “Latinas” which the magazine maintains as part of their subscription and distribution. Obviously, many magazines which used to only be print magazines now have websites, and on these sites, there are also, most probably, blogs. Again, if you’ve already thought of this, pardon my presenting such ideas. You analysis of Chicana blogs, besides having to entertain Chicano blogs, will no doubt also have to entertain “Latina” blogs. Comparing and contrasting, that is, analyzing these different online sites seems logical to me, yet I don’t recall your raising this as part of your investigation into Chicana blogs.

    If these ideas and suggestions appear to broadening the scope of your research as well as the scope of your analysis, when you should instead be trying to narrow down your analysis of your research, then that’s ok. Where I saw your analysis going, though, was a comparison of Chicana blogs with blogs from the so-called mainstream, whether feminist in orientation or not.

    I can easily see how you might structure an analysis of Chicana blogs. But what seems easy to me may not be easy to you, and besides, what do I know about technical communication much less about blogs and such.

    So you understand what I’m trying to get at by my laying out points of comparison between Chicana blogs and other kinds of blogs, whether they’re Chicano blogs or blogs from the mainstream. Oh, and will you also be entertaining and engaging an analysis which includes African American woman’s blogs?

    Well, them be my two-cents for now. Went out and bought an ironing board cover, with pad, earlier this late afternoon. Now, I’ll have to meditate on whether or not I’ll begin a career in ironing my own shirts and pants, after a very long hiatus.

    JAM

  • js

    Jaime,

    You are right about all the other directions in which my research could go. At the moment, I am more interested in analyzing the Chicana blogs and seeing what I find first.

    My main concern is to attempt to determine something which will help us to fight the participation gap. I think Chicanas are using blogs in specific ways. First I want to determine what those ways are. Then I will be able to do comparisons with Chicanos, Latinas, and other populations.

  • Jaime P.

    JS,

    I just came across your blog and your work. It is incredibly interesting to me that you chose this as your topic. I am an Eng. Lit major at UH-Downtown, and I am trying to focus my own research to start applying for grad school myself.

    Do you have a working list of Chicana(o) blogs that you have already come across. I think that a comprehensive list like that is incredibly powerful.

    I must inquire about how you are defining “Chicana(o)”. You pose it as a self-defined alternative to the Latin or Hispanic monikers. From what I understand about “Chicano(a)”, it indicates Mexican descent. Is your study specifically about women bloggers of Mexican descent or are you trying to include a wider range of voices?

  • js

    Jaime P.

    I have been thinking about focusing my study only on Chicana bloggers but I may decide to include, as you say, “a wider range of voices.” I am still at the preliminary stages of my project so I may still change my mind. You asked about my definition of “Chicana(o)” which I will post on the blog.

  • Mari D. Gonzalez

    Have you read the study of Judith Martin? She teaches Intercultural Communication and focuses on Post colonial studies. Although I agree with you on the power of self-definition, as much as I identify with the Chicano movement and literature which was the focus of my undergraduate sr. research project, as a person born in Mexico I cannot use the term Chicana and as someone who shares a similar history and acculturation experience with people for instance with Central Americans I rather use Latina. By the way, I have a poem that I wrote about a couple years after I moved to the U.S. Saludos. Mari

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