DR. POYO: Thank you, Patricia. This
session is to end in about five minutes, I think, so I don't have much time
for commentary. So rather than commenting let me just raise a question that
perhaps you all could address. I've been working with the Latino Advisory Board
at the National Museum for some years and one of the things that we're struggling
with there at the museum is the idea, the notion, of how do you put together
a Latino exhibit; that is, that's a big subject.
And my own sense is that ultimately the creation of a Latino exhibit
would come out of this kind of research. That's why it's so important, come
out of the particular, out of the specific, and each of these pieces of research
will suggest to us if we get enough of them what are the themes out there that
connect the various communities in some way so that we can begin to tell a larger
story in a museum context.
So my question for you is to resolve this for us by perhaps suggesting
how you think your own research and the themes and the material that you're
dealing with in your research might operate at that level, might contribute
to some bigger picture that we could try to put together.
DR. BAHTI: I'll start. This project
actually began as a museum project, as a Mexican heritage project of the Arizona
Historical Society, and it began with oral histories, the kinds made by Patricia
Preciado-Martin, who has done a number of books consequently on materials from
her work. And what happened was that each project became thematic. There was
one on theater and one on border journalism, each time identifying the players
or the actors in those social dramas. And then came the challenge of trying
to figure out how to integrate the demographic or the social scientific information
with the artistic information that was so beautiful and valuable to the projects
and then trying to find the means by which you could focus the exhibits or the
subjects in such a way that you were dealing with a very complex subject on
a very small scale, which is what I think is where the beauty comes from, where
you grant each location its value and its energy while you look at the people
that are contributing to the process of creating culture and manifesting that
culture at particular points in time and also by testing the ideas that we have
about the culture now to the cultures as they existed before. And in my research
I did by using a combination of ideas of internal colonialism extended to internal
So what I was doing was using our ideas as the foundation through
which I applied new ideas to see how they worked in another time such as the
work that's being done on Mestizaje using these broad sheets that were used
in colonial Mexico as a starting point for where the ideas for the Mestizaje
northern New Mexico would come as an inherited notion that we then applied to
contemporary issues, which are cultural issues that are more lasting and very
enduring which we hope to preserve and treasure.
DR. RAEL-GALVEZ: I could try and address
that from two different angles. The first, I think, is exactly what you're
saying, understand the larger narratives that connect us in different ways in
those grander narratives of colonialism or otherwise our memory even the terror
stories and things like that but it's also important, as you've just said, to
focus in on the very local stories as well, the very small stories that knit
that larger fabric of grander narratives. I know I'm being vague but we only
have a few minutes anyway.
The second part is that I think that we have to continue to engage
in dialog with one another but also with various other groups, and you don't
see that so much in the presentation that I gave but this project has forced
me to engage in dialog with other slavery, not just African American but also
part of the point that I was making is that Mestizaje should not be solely seen
as a hybridization as we've continued to talk about it in the past but really
like the phenomena of the forms are also these distinct people like Luis Valdez
that show up in these narratives and so we should be having a lot more dialog
with native groups in this country because there's a lot more in common in some
cases with the local than maybe we have with each other across. But again that's
all to say that we should continue to have these conversations across the divides.
DR. RODRIGUEZ: I would add doing different
kind of work but also knowing Chicano history and cultures or at least having
studied them that there's a need to also be more expansive, to be able to talk
about other Latino histories implicated here in the United States and that's
what I'm working on.
DR. MOLINA: I struggled with that question
since I did that program in 1996 because, as you said, identity is not something
you can put under that museum glass. It's static, it's situational, it's multilayered.
That's the difficulty, then, in how you exhibit.
I think I was interested in these images because it spoke to how
these identities get circulated, and I think what's interesting in many of the
exhibits I've gone to recently that one of the most recent that's local of a
community in east Los Angeles, the Boyle Heights exhibit, where they did a lot
of ethnic graphic research and it's that exhibit.
What makes it very successful, an ethnographic portrayal of this
community, is that it's a living exhibit and they bring in oral histories and
different things from the community and it's multilayered and it shows how the
images of east Los Angeles were constructed but also really deconstructed because
they bring in the Japanese perspective, Jewish perspective, Mexican perspective,
Chicano, American, and it's very multilayered and rich and I would hope that
that's the kind of direction that we would be moving in. It's been very successful
and very alive, and it was very nice to see a lot of people from the community
there enjoying it.
DR. POYO: Magdalena, is there more time
MS. MIERI: Yes, five minutes.
MS. PEREZ: I would like to respond to
ÄÄÄÄ because I think ÄÄÄÄ concentrating on a Latino exhibit. That's the first
problem, that it should be a Latino exhibit ÄÄÄÄ how we have these cross-sections
and ÄÄÄÄ which will allow perhaps a discussion of looking at violence within
our communities. How do we talk about ÄÄÄÄ that's just one idea but I think
also how to do different forms of exhibition ÄÄÄÄ being there an example of
ÄÄÄÄ but I think there are different moments like how do you do a history type
of show, how do you an aesthetically visual show, how do you incorporate new
I mean, I think that also needs to be ÄÄÄÄ so that to even throw
the question a Latino exhibit that's become problematic on how ÄÄÄÄ museums
organized because they only have that one shot ÄÄÄÄ
QUESTION: Can I say something about
ÄÄÄÄ the whole idea when you asked that question if I had been in panel I would
have ÄÄÄÄ very much so and so the whole idea of ÄÄÄÄ not because I don't want
to do it but because of what's implicated, as you say by ÄÄÄÄ in the context
of the Smithsonian American History Museum where ÄÄÄÄ should have happened for
many years and because the brunt of it and what that signifies in a place like
this because of all of these political things creates something that ÄÄÄÄ.
And I think in your position here that it has to be broken down
somehow into a all the pieces that look at the complexity ÄÄÄÄ for me I know
who I am but in the present context.
MS. MIERI: All right, that would be
the last one.
QUESTION: I want to echo that same comment
that Marvette ÄÄÄÄ I wonder why in this post-colonial moment we keep going back
to the Western notions of conformity and continuity and I think we need to literally
in practice go beyond that and maybe the difficulty is, as Estevan is suggesting,
why can't we see Mestizo phenomena. I think if we raise the question of the
Latino exhibit the Latino museum or a Latino program in the language of continuity
and in the language of shared histories that we'll keep missing that Mestizaje,
so I would like to echo what you were saying and just try and find another way
of asking the question.
QUESTION: And the other thing that I
would ÄÄÄÄ what that question does ÄÄÄÄ is that in asking us to provide the
solutions ÄÄÄÄ our knowledge as ÄÄÄÄ what it does is actually close down ÄÄÄÄ
while this is happening, the beginnings of a scholarly engagement so ÄÄÄÄ
MS. MIERI: Thank you. I think we just
touched on the core in the spirit of this conference, and let me assure you
that the conversation is hard to stop and will continue throughout the next
three days. And this is the part of the job that I hate which is interrupt discussions
but they pay me to do this so I'm sorry.
(Whereupon, at 12:31 p.m., a luncheon recess was taken.)
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