The Woman in the Zoot Suit: Gender, Nationalism, and the Cultural Politics of Memory

The Woman in the Zoot Suit: Gender, Nationalism, and the Cultural Politics of Memory

by Catherine S. Ramírez, Catherine Sue Ramírez, Catherine Ramírez
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

ISBN-10: 0822343037

ISBN-13: 9780822343035

Pub. Date: 01/16/2009

Publisher: Duke University Press Books

The Mexican American woman zoot suiter, or pachuca, often wore a V-neck sweater or a long, broad-shouldered coat, a knee-length pleated skirt, fishnet stockings or bobby socks, platform heels or saddle shoes, dark lipstick, and a bouffant. Or she donned the same style of zoot suit that her male counterparts wore. With their striking attire, pachucos and pachucas

Overview

The Mexican American woman zoot suiter, or pachuca, often wore a V-neck sweater or a long, broad-shouldered coat, a knee-length pleated skirt, fishnet stockings or bobby socks, platform heels or saddle shoes, dark lipstick, and a bouffant. Or she donned the same style of zoot suit that her male counterparts wore. With their striking attire, pachucos and pachucas represented a new generation of Mexican American youth, which arrived on the public scene in the 1940s. Yet while pachucos have often been the subject of literature, visual art, and scholarship, The Woman in the Zoot Suit is the first book focused on pachucas.

Two events in wartime Los Angeles thrust young Mexican American zoot suiters into the media spotlight. In the Sleepy Lagoon incident, a man was murdered during a mass brawl in August 1942. Twenty-two young men, all but one of Mexican descent, were tried and convicted of the crime. In the Zoot Suit Riots of June 1943, white servicemen attacked young zoot suiters, particularly Mexican Americans, throughout Los Angeles. The Chicano movement of the 1960s–1980s cast these events as key moments in the political awakening of Mexican Americans and pachucos as exemplars of Chicano identity, resistance, and style. While pachucas and other Mexican American women figured in the two incidents, they were barely acknowledged in later Chicano movement narratives. Catherine S. Ramírez draws on interviews she conducted with Mexican American women who came of age in Los Angeles in the late 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s as she recovers the neglected stories of pachucas. Investigating their relative absence in scholarly and artistic works, she argues that both wartime U.S. culture and the Chicano movement rejected pachucas because they threatened traditional gender roles. Ramírez reveals how pachucas challenged dominant notions of Mexican American and Chicano identity, how feminists have reinterpreted la pachuca, and how attention to an overlooked figure can disclose much about history making, nationalism, and resistant identities.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780822343035
Publisher:
Duke University Press Books
Publication date:
01/16/2009
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xxi

A Note on Terminology xxv

Introduction: A Genealogy of Vendidas 1

1. Domesticating the Pachuca 25

2. Black Skirts, Dark Slacks, and Brown Knees: Pachuca Style and Spectacle during World War II 55

3. Saying "Nothin'": Pachucas and the Languages of Resistance 83

4. La Pachuca and the Excesses of Family and Nation 109

Epilogue: Homegirls Then and Now, from the Home Front to the Frontline 137

Notes 149

Bibliography 197

Index 225

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >