Testimonios as Critical Tools in Theorizing Chicana/o, Latina/o, and Indigenous Studies

Ines Hernandez-Avila
Native American Studies
UC Davis

Lorena Oropeza
UC Davis

The Chicana/Latina Research Center formed an inter-campus working group on the topic of “TESTIMONIOS AS CRITICAL TOOLS IN THEORIZING CHICANA/LATINA AND INDIGENOUS WOMEN’S STUDIES.” The working group drew together 13 scholars from four UC campuses to share their research and collaborate on new projects with this theme in mind. Among the fields represented by this group were psychology, literature, history, sociology, anthropology, education, and religious studies. First employed as a means of recording social struggle in Latin America, testimonios are personal narratives in which individuals relate their own experiences. But the methodology has a wide appeal as the diversity of scholars suggests because testimonios have proven especially useful in capturing the wisdom of marginalized populations, tracing resistance among the oppressed, and exploring the personal and political lives of women and queers. These thirteen scholars have used testimonios to gain insight into Latino/a and indigenous sexuality, political involvement, educational achievement, social positioning, and literary production. Through web-based and in-person gathering, we explored the continual utility of testimonios across disciplines and investigating and complicating notions of evidence, truth, objectivity, and textual versus oral authority within our research.