September 11, 2006
Chicanas gather at UCSC for annual summer
By Jennifer McNulty
The weather was foggy, but the interactions were warm during
a recent gathering of Chicanas in higher education who came
together for intellectual sharing, networking, and reflection.
More than 300 undergraduates, graduate students, and professors
from around the country gathered at Oakes College in August
for the annual summer institute of Mujeres Activas en Letras
y Cambio Social (MALCS), or Women Active in Letters and Social
Change. With support from the National Science Foundation, the
event attracted women in the humanities, social sciences, sciences,
mathematics, and engineering. This year's conference was dedicated
to the memory of former UCSC chancellor Denice Denton, an outspoken
advocate for women and minorities in science, math, and engineering.
The annual event was established in 1983 by Chicanas eager
to identify collective solutions to the problems of race, class,
and gender oppression they were experiencing in academia.
The theme of this year's event was Transfronteras: Generations
and Geographies: Activistas en la Lucha! to acknowledge
women working in academia throughout the Americas. We
honor those who have come before us as well as the new generations
who lead the way during uncertain times, said MALCS chair-elect
Felicity Schaeffer-Grabiel, assistant professor of feminist
studies at UCSC.
With more than two dozen participants from UCSC, the institute
offered workshops and panel discussions on topics as diverse
Navigating and Surviving Your World: Fiction and Drama
by Latinas and Chicanas and Democracy, Citizenship,
and Social Justice Education. A welcome reception, art
exhibit opening, and beach bonfire provided opportunities for
informal social interactions.
Four UCSC Ph.D. students held a roundtable discussion about
Radical Women of Color Feminisms: The Interconnectedness
of Identity Formations, Political Projects, and Methodologies.
Sandra Alvarez of politics was joined by Elisa Diana Huerta
of anthropology, Roya Rastegar of history of consciousness,
and Susy Zepeda of sociology.
The whole event was amazing, said Aida Hurtado,
professor of psychology and a member of the summer institute
site committee. It's so important to have these opportunities
for us to come together and share our scholarship and our experiences.
The institute's closing reception was followed by the opening
of the 13th Annual Women of Color Film and Video Festival at