115th Annual Conference - Honolulu, Hawaii
Friday, November 10 - Sunday, November 12, 2017

Anything for Selenas: Chicanx/Latinx Representation in U.S. Cultural Memory

Erin L Alvarez, Michigan State University

The purpose of this presentation is to explore how Chicanxs/Latinxs acquire, internalize, and reinterpret their identity through cultural the cultural icon, Selena Quintanilla – Pérez.

Proposal: 

When beginning my dissertation research, I was prepared to hit multiple walls when searching for academic articles featuring slain Tejana singer, Selena Quintanilla – Perez.  The bulk of written and visual materials are accounts of her death, analyses of her murder and killer, the economic impact of her popularity, and how Chicanx/Latinx express their grief.  Luckily, there were enough scholarly articles about her life and impact that would provide me with enough criticism to persuade my committee to focus my research on the impact of her life on the Chicanx/Latinx population, specifically how her life impacted the identity formation of individuals born five years before and after her death.  Essentially, I examine ways in which the Chicanx/Latinx community have attained visibility in US cultural memory through Quintanilla – Pérez. 

     Although there are a multitude of writings about Qunitanilla – Perez, i.e., newspaper reports, unofficial biographies, magazine articles, academic articles, etc., there is little if any literary representation of the legendary Chicanx/Latinx musical and cultural icon.  The purpose of this presentation is to explore how Chicanxs/Latinxs acquire, internalize, and reinterpret their identity through cultural icons like Quintanilla – Pérez?  How does her absence in Chicanx/Latinx literature impact the way US culture envisions the Chicanx/Latinx community, as well as how we envision ourselves through an anti-assimilationist lens?