Over 50 years ago, anthropologist Octavio Romano founded the publication, El Grito: A Journal of Contemporary Mexican American Thought, at UC Berkeley. Indeed, it was one of many actions of the time that sought to channel the educational aims of the Mexican American civil rights movement into the corridors of higher education. And the years that followed, scholars on campuses throughout California and the West built upon these aims, and ultimately established the academic discipline that became known as Chicana/o Studies.

The Chicana/o Studies Oral History Project commemorates that historical development by documenting the formation of Chicana/o Studies through in-depth interviews with the first generations of scholars who shaped it. Based on the selections of an advisory council composed of scholars from around the country, the project features oral histories with the prominent and pioneering scholars who helped build the discipline over the last five decades. These oral histories will take center stage in the two main products of the project. First, they will form the Chicana/o Studies Oral History collection at UC Berkeley, with each interview transcribed and made available online. To date, the project features well over 100 hours of recordings with 22 of the most distinguished scholars in the field; sixteen of these interviews are available now; the others are forthcoming. Second, the oral histories comprise the heart of a short film series, tentatively titled, Chicana/o Studies: The Legacy of a Movement and the Forging of a Discipline. Here short edited videos will put the interviews into conversation around selected themes for use in high school and college classrooms.

Taken together, this project commemorates over 50 years of Chicana/o Studies, and significantly advances our understanding of the field’s development and evolution. Yet the development of Chicana/o Studies, as captured in both the oral history transcripts and film series, is more than just the story of a discipline. It is the story of a generation of Chicana/o scholars who broke through barriers to take their place in the nation’s universities, and spent their careers documenting the history and experience of their community. It is the story of educational reform, where scholars of color demanded that America’s curriculum equally include all its citizens. In many respects, it is also a story that highlights another side of the civil rights movement, one where actions in the classroom, rather than those in the streets, proved the long-lasting vector of social change.

Film Trailer


Rudy Acuña

CSU Northridge

Tomás Almaguer

San Francisco State University

Albert Camarillo

Stanford University

Antonia Castañeda

St. Mary’s University

Adelaida Del Castillo

San Diego State University

Edward Escobar

Arizona State University

Ignacio García

Brigham Young University

Mario T. García

UC Santa Barbara

Deena González

Gonzaga University

Richard Griswold del Castillo

San Diego State University

David Montejano

UC Berkeley

Emma Pérez

University of Arizona

Ricardo Romo

University of Texas, San Antonio

Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith

University of Arizona

Vicki Ruiz

UC Irvine

Ramón Saldivar

Stanford University

Rosaura Sánchez

UC San Diego

Guadalupe San Miguel

University of Houston

Adela de la Torre

San Diego State University

Emilio Zamora

University of Texas, Austin

Patricia Zavella

UC Santa Cruz