Latina Lives, Latina Narratives
Influential Essays by Vicki L. Ruiz
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This book brings together the most influential and widely known writings of Vicki L. Ruiz, a leading voice in the fields of Chicana/o, Latina/o, women’s, and labor history.
For nearly forty years, Ruiz has produced scholarship that has provided the foundation for a rich and nuanced understanding of the ways in which Chicanas and Latinas negotiate the structures impinging on their everyday lives. From challenging familial, patriarchal cultural norms, building interethnic social networks in the neighborhood and workplace, and organizing labor unions, to fighting gender and racial discrimination in the courts, at work, in the schools, and on the streets, Ruiz’s studies have examined the countless struggles, roadblocks, and victories Chicanas and Latinas have faced in the twentieth century and beyond. The articles in this book are organized chronologically to reflect the evolution of Ruiz’s intellectual contributions as well as her commitment to integrating feminist history, theory, and methodology, and show how she has generously offered insights, reflections, and humor in helping us define and shape who we are as mujeres, Chicanas, Latinas, scholars, teachers, and mentors.
With its narrative flow and engaging prose, Ruiz’s scholarship connects with academic and public audiences and this collection fulfills a much-needed demand in the teaching of women’s, Chicana/o, Latina/o, and labor history.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Forty Years of Narrating Latina Lives
1. A Promise Fulfilled: Mexican Cannery Workers in Southern California
2. Dead Ends or Gold Mines?: Using Missionary Records in Mexican-American Women's History
3. “Star Struck”: Acculturation, Adolescence, and Mexican American Women, 1920-1950
4. Situating Stories: The Surprising Consequences of Oral History
5. ‘We Always Tell Our Children They are Americans:’ Méndez v. Westminster and the California Road to Brown
6. Tapestries of Resistance: Episodes of School Segregation and Desegregation in the U.S. West
7. Una Mujer sin Fronteras: Luisa Moreno and Latina Labor Activism
8. Nuestra América: Latino History as United States History
9. Citizen Restaurant: American Imaginaries, American Communities
10. AHA Presidential Address, Class Acts: Latina Feminist Traditions, 1900-1930
11. “Ongoing Missionary Labor”: Building, Maintaining, and Expanding Chicana Studies/History, An Interview with Vicki L. Ruiz, by Leisa D. Meyer
12. Pathways in Oral History: Vicki L. Ruiz
Miroslava Chávez-García is Professor of History at UCSB and holds affiliations in the Departments of Chicana/o Studies and Feminist Studies. Her latest book is Migrant Longing: Letter Writing across the U.S.–Mexico Borderlands (2018), a history of migration, gender, courtship, and identity, as told through more than 300 personal letters sent across the border.
"The influential essays collected here are classics—often cited, read, and assigned in classes on the histories of women, labor, ethnicity, and methodology. They map the abundant intellectual and professional contributions of Vicki Ruiz, who has done so much to place Latinas in the mainstream of U.S. history. By bringing together the cannery workers, adolescents, labor organizers and others she has studied, this collection honors the lasting significance of both Professor Ruiz and her historical subjects."
Estelle B. Freedman, Robinson Professor in U.S. History, Stanford University, USA
"If in 2020 we celebrated the women who won the right to vote in 1920, in 2021 let us hail second wave feminist Vicki L. Ruiz, who created the field of Chicana and Latina history. By incorporating Brown and Black women into histories as significant actors and thinkers, Ruiz transformed how American history is written, taught, and embodied. Here is a stunning collection of her most catalytic essays. It is a must read!"
Ramón A. Gutiérrez, Preston & Sterling Morton Distinguished Service Professor of History, University of Chicago, USA
"My graduate education began under Vicki L. Ruiz, who offered lessons that shaped my career for more than three decades. Her free-hand edits to my earliest efforts at what would become Captives & Cousins taught me that complicated ideas are best expressed in ungarnished prose. Her passion to unveil the histories of those who’ve dwelled in the shadowlands of our profession remains my guidestar today. I am delighted that her most influential essays are gathered here under a single cover."
James F. Brooks, Gable Distinguished Professor of History, University of Georgia, USA
"After Vicki L. Ruiz finished her dissertation at Stanford University and published her first monograph in 1987, I had every expectation she would make her mark in the field of women’s history and Latina history. Over the course of her long career, Vicki went far beyond even my high expectations. No historian has contributed more to understanding the complex web of the Latina experience than Vicki L. Ruiz. The collections of essays in this volume are testament to her pioneering scholarship."
Albert M. Camarillo, Professor of History (and by courtesy Graduate School of Education) and Leon Sloss Jr. Memorial Professor/Haas Centennial Professor of Public Service, Emeritus, Stanford University, USA
"No scholar has had more influence, has done more to shape the field of Latinx history than Vicki Ruiz has. The capacious range of her essays, as is evident in this volume, the myriad lines of inquiry, and the generosity with which they open possibilities for further scholarship is unmatched."
Professor Sarah Deutsch, Duke University, USA
"There are few scholars who have had had as much influence on changing how we narrate and write American history as Vicki Ruiz. She has led the way in creating a place in our historical narratives for Latinas, women who were too long in the shadows. Dr. Ruiz has done this through her own research and writing and also through her deep and abiding commitment to mentor the next several generations of Latinx scholars. Dr. Ruiz is a treasure, and this book is a trove of her most brilliant gems."
Margaret D. Jacobs, Chancellor's Professor of History, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA
"Historian, scholar, teacher, mentor, activist, pathbreaker—Vicki L. Ruiz is unrivaled for her influence on Chicana, Latina, Latinx, western, women’s, working-class, and American histories and on the historical profession. This valuable collection spotlights the substantive and methodological importance of Ruiz’s scholarship as it has probed the intersecting significance of race, class, ethnicity, and gender in history, for the people who lived the history, and who made it. It is work of enduring importance."
Elizabeth Jameson, Professor Emerita of History, University of Calgary, Canada, Past President, Western History Association and Pacific Coast Branch-American Historical Association
"Illuminating the vital roles of Chicanas and Latinas in U.S. history, Vicki L. Ruiz has brought transformative perspective to women’s history and ethnic studies. Her path-breaking essays stand as models of creative, principled research and analysis. Presenting a range of voices, from cannery workers and labor leaders to rebellious daughters charting new pathways, her work conveys powerful lessons of struggle, resilience, and vision."
Valerie J. Matsumoto, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
"Rarely has a scholar shaped a field so fully as Vicki Ruiz has shaped Latinx Studies. Take any topic on why and how immigrants come to the US, settle, form communities, and their relationship to American culture and society, and you will find Ruiz has enlightened us on it. No study of Latinx communities or immigration would be complete without reading Ruiz's work and no book shelf is complete without this book."
Natalia Molina, author of How Race Is Made in America: Immigration, Citizenship, and the Historical Power of Racial Scripts
"This collection of essays represents a well-deserved homage to a leading American historian. Ruiz’s groundbreaking work, especially in the arena of Latina labor organizing, civil rights, and biography has both challenged and transformed the ways we perceive our heritage, ourselves, and the nation’s narrative."
Virginia Sánchez Korrol, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, Department of Puerto Rican and Latino Studies, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, USA