Chicana por mi Raza Wins 2011 Scalable Research Challenge


By bposler
Feb 06, 2012

The Chicana por mi Raza project has just been selected by the Advanced Research and Technology Collaboratory (ARTCA) as one of the 2011 winners of the Scalable Research Challenge. Associate Professor Maria Cotera (core faculty member in the Latina/o Studies Program) is the lead collaborator of this project. This international award is meant to encourage innovative research projects to explore the possibilities offered by advanced computational resources.

Chicana por Mi Raza is a digital humanities project that involves the collection, digitization, and display of archival materials and oral histories related to the development of Chicana Feminist thought and praxis over the long civil rights era.  The project proposes both the collection of documents related to this history--photographs, posters, correspondence, written material (both published and unpublished), ephemera--and the development of a flexible user interface that can allow users, both professional and novice, to access these materials through interactive timeline and mapping utilities.

While there are some archival holdings (mostly in California and the Southwest) documenting this period, the vast majority of archives related to the history of Chicana feminism are located in the basements, attics, and garages of women who were active during the civil rights era. This project seeks to address this problem by identifying key figures, conducting oral histories with them, and digitizing their archives in situ. The idea, then, is to create a single digital access point that re-unifies an archive that is currently dispersed; one that recreates the complex network that once existed among activists who were, like their archives are now, dispersed across a wide geographic field stretching from Chicago to Texas to California, and beyond.

The project team, which includes Maria Cotera, associate professor of American Culture and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan, and independent filmmaker Linda Garcia Merchant, has, since 2009, collected over 20 interviews and digitized a number of personal archives. They are on track to continue oral history collection over the next year and have acquired permission to digitize three additional private archives. They are also developing a partnership with the University of Michigan Library, Stanford University, the University of Texas, and the UCLA libraries explore how the archives we are collecting might interface with library holdings from across the country.