Political Comadrazgo: Chicano Networks, Gender Politics, and Ethnic Identity in 20th Century Los Angeles

Mayra Avitia
UC San Diego

This dissertation examined how Chicana activists in 1970s Los Angeles forged new political strategies, agendas, and mobilizations based on their particular location as ethnic women, political experience, and disconcerting position in the Chicano movement and mainstream American feminist movement. Chicana activists’ new political vision was women-centered and aimed to tackle overlooked issues of unemployment, childcare, women’s reproductive control, environmental discrimination, and a lack of Chicana leadership. Through the establishment of political networks, political comadrazgos, which drew on traditions of mutualism known in Spanish as compadrazgo (extended fictive kinship networks) Chicanas shared political aspirations, provided mutual support, and served to gain access to the political realm. This work explored both the new possibilities and limitations inherent in ethnic and gender-specific mobilization and analyzes the ongoing tensions and divisions created by the introduction of these important new actors in California regional politics.