Launching Michicanxs of Aztlán: Stories of Xicano Culture in Michigan
Now live and available for your viewing pleasure, Michicanxs of Aztlán is a website documenting Xicano culture in Lower Michigan. This project grew out of my work in CHI last year with The Xicano Cookbook project, and I decided to branch off in order to take a slightly different approach on a very similar topic. Whereas last year’s project functioned like a digital essay that discursively discussed various theories, stories, and images related to Xicano culture, this year’s project is more like a collection of snapshots. By focusing on a small number of stories, I have been able to contextualize my data to a greater extent by giving it more space within my website.
Created as part of the Cultural Heritage Informatics Graduate Fellowship program, Michicanxs of Aztlán is also intended to function as an ongoing sort of repository of Xicano narratives. Great Lakes Xicanos in particular have limited space—virtually or physically—to display our work, and few repositories like this exist currently digitally.
Michicanxs of Aztlán currently displays three stories written as part of an independent in Xicano/Indigenous rhetorics, which I took fall semester 2015. Each story has its own page, with an individualized header that includes a representative image and short description of the narrative. I’ve included these descriptions below.
“Tamale Power”: This story pulls from holidays spent at my grandma’s house as a child to show how embodied cultural memory lives through the smell, feel, and taste of Mexican food. I use the personal example of my family to point toward a larger story that Xicanos in general often experience, sustaining our historical connection to Aztlán through making, sharing and eating.
“Crunk Mestizaje”: From the grimy archives of Midwestern Xicano rap, Crunk Mestizaje is a story about the influence my brother’s crunk rap album had on my understanding of race. Beneath this description on the website, there is an embedded audio player from the popular music-streaming tool, Reverb Nation. One of my brother’s songs, “Loco,” is ready to stream and I invite my audience to press play before reading the story.
“In the Kitchen”: This final story explores the concept of “mestizaje” through the Mexican food experiences passed down to me through my Irish mother, who had been taught how to cook by my Mexican grandmother.
Please keep an eye on our blog, as my CHI Graduate Fellow colleagues will also be launching their soon as well!