I am pleased to announce the launch of The Xicano Cookbook, a multi-modal essay documenting Xicano culture in the Great Lakes region. The website uses Xicano art, oral histories, and decolonial theory to describe some of the ways in which Xicanos make space and place for our culture, especially in regard to our food practices and visual media making.
It has been great having the chance to develop this project through the Cultural Heritage Informatics Graduate Fellowship this year. It changed forms many times during the past 8 months, but thanks to continuous critical feedback from my colleagues in CHI and in WRAC, I was able to develop a project that was both fun to work on and (hopefully) useful to Chicana/o Studies and CHI in general.
Originally, at the beginning of the academic year, I had envisioned making an interactive map that tracked my family’s migrant history from Mexico to Texas to Michigan. While these types of genealogies can often be worthwhile, the decolonial theory that was guiding my project pushed it in a different direction. Rather than providing a linear visualization of this migration history, I utilized the dynamic tools available through Story Maps to craft a digital essay that articulates invisibilized aspects of Xicano culture with an array of multimedia content. Using Story Maps allowed me showcase different kinds of media simultaneously—audio clips from interviews I conducted with local Xicano artists and cooks, photography and other visual images, and written text—and it has made my project much more interactive.
Allowing Great Lakes Xicanos to tell their own stories—through their spoken stories and visual art—was another important part of the project, because even within Chicana/o studies, this geographical location is quite understudied. This often has the impact (as it did on me) of creating much distance between Xicanos and our complex history as a detribalized Indigenous people who have been displaced from our lands. So embedding Sound Cloud clips from interviews with my project participants allows me to bridge this distance a bit, and I cannot thank my interviewees enough for the stories.
As Indigenous migrants in occupied territory, it is also important for all Xicanos to acknowledge those on whose land we now reside. The Xicano Cookbook was created in East Lansing, Michigan. Miigwetch to the People of the Three Fires: the Ojibwe, the Odawa, and the Potawatomi.
This project is also indebted to the many Xicanos and Latinos who came before me in the Lansing, MI area. Gracias especially to the Cristo Rey Community Center, El Oasis Food Truck, La Estrellita (Super-Mercado), Iglesia Cristo Rey, the Xicano Development Center, and the Indigenous Youth Empowerment Program for your brilliant minds and loving hearts.