Jose Alamillo

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"Why We Need a Latino Research Center in the Pacific Northwest"
Jose M. Alamillo

When I arrived in Pullman,WA in 1999 one of my first observations was the absence of a Research Institute or Research Center dedicated to the study of Latinos and Latinas in the Pacific Northwest. Check out the directory of Latino/a research centers with none in the Pacific Northwest. As you can see from the Directory of Latino Research Centersthere are none in the Pacific Northwest.

Given the increasing demographics of this population in which Latino/as now constitute the largest ethnic group in Oregon, Idaho and Wahington State as well as the challenges that continue to grow year by year, we need coordinated research effort to study social, political, immigration, economic, labor, health, educational issues that continue to impact Latino/as across the state and region. Having been involved in two research centers in California: 1) Latinos in a Global Society at UC Irvine and the Chicano Studies Research Center at UCLA, I know how important these centers are for making interventions in the current public debate about Latino/as in U.S. Society.

Here are some reasons for a research institute or center.

1) Lack of public policy research on the state and region
Even though scholars have begun to research the history of Spanish, Mexican and Latino/as in the region, we need more contemporary studies that make a more direct/indirect impact on Latino//a communities. Let me give you an example, the Chicano Studies Research Center produces Public Policy Briefs that are released to mainstream media outlets, politicians and community organizations to spur discussion and debate that will lead to some kind of action. For example when "Political Apartheid in California: Consequences of Excluding a Growing Noncitizen Population" was released by Joaquin Avila that was much discussion about the Latino vote. In this report Avila argues that we have a growing segment of non-citizens in our society that contributes to the economy, pays taxes, is subject to the military, and yet is not able to participate effectively in the political process. He called this "political apartheid" and this received lots of media coverage especially from CNN's Lou Dobbs. In 2001, Professor Avila spearheaded efforts to secure the passage of the California State Voting Rights Act, the only state voting rights act in the nation. Now Dr. Avila is a professor at Seattle University School of Law. We need a similar report that examines "political apartheid" in the PNW region. Apart from voting rights we need more research on labor law abuses in the agricultural industry, lack of health access, denial of community college access to undocumented students, the lack of financial loans for Latino small businesses, lack of representations in city councils, school boards and city commissions.

2) Lack of coordination and collaboration among organizations and programs
This proposed center can help with the coordination of efforts among various community organizations, federally funded programs, professional association, state commissions, and cultural centers. The problem in Washington State is that too many groups are working on similar issues but in isolation from each other. There is no coordinated effort. Part of the reason is the Western and Eastern divide (WA and Oregon), and the geographic isolation of many of these groups, communities and universities. But with internet and video conferencing technology we can bridge the divide. Let me provide a history lesson. In 1970 a non-profit organization was formed to unite all teachers and faculty to address issues of Chicano educational inequality in WA State. The group was called "Chicano Education Association" (CHE). According to the groups' articles of incorporation found in the Tomas Ybarra Frausto Papers at UW Special Collections (Box 16, N. 13) the goal was to improve educational opportunities for the Mexican population, to increase the employment of Chicano/a educators and paraprofessionals in K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and to provide input in district and state educational policies (i.e. bilingual education) that directly impact these communities.

3) Lack of connection between academia and community groups
Given the existing divide (geography, political, economic) between 4-year public universities and Latino/a communities it is very difficulty for community-based groups to envision these academic institutions as a resource for their grassroots efforts. It is also difficult for university researchers to connect and understand these communities since they never step foot in them, unless they stop for a Mexican taco or shopping at Fiesta Foods. There is a lack of formal venues, spaces, and events that can facilitate discussions and exchanges between faculty, students and community groups. In Washington State, even though we have Latino cultural centers (El Centro de la Raza; Centro Latino etc..) in Seattle and Tacoma, there none in Pasco, Yakima, Wenatchee, Mount Vernon, communities with the largest Latino populations. I believe these communities can benefit from a closer connection to a research center with resources, from research, recruitment, mentoring, advocacy, and activism. A research center can also benefit by linking faculty to community groups and alumni and future recruitment of Latino/a students.

4) Why should State Legislatures support the creation of a Latino Research Center
The most obvious reason is that they could make more informed decisions on Latino public policy if they had more solid research produced by academic researchers. Affiliated faculty and researchers can respond to requests about research on particular issues that are being debated and discussed at the state legislature.


Latino Vote in Washington State

According to a report by NALEO Education Fund the Latino electorate in Washington State is a youthful electorate that brings both challenges and opportunities. This report is a wake call to increase the number of registered voters among Latino/a youth (18-28) who make the difference in local races and can develop into future leaders by encouraging them torun for political office at the state level.


Latinos and Latinas in the Pacific Northwest

A Brief History

Selected Bibliography


The Pacific Northwest Foco of the
National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies

Announces a Call for Papers and Panels
for the 2007 Regional Foco Conference

Conference Theme:

Class Dismissed? Reintegrating critical studies of class into Chicana/o Studies

Delia Aguilar's Keynote Address

March 22-23, 2007
University of Washington - Seattle

Over the past two decades, the field of Chicana/o Studies, paralleling developments in other social sciences, took a “linguistic turn” or a “postmodern shift” involving a focus on the study and analysis of discourse, identity politics, and cultural production and reproduction. Many students of Chicana/o Studies have felt that this resulted in our neglecting and even marginalizing the study and analysis of the material conditions of existence and the enduring relevance of class in our experiences of economic, political, social, cultural, and environmental issues. The Pacific Northwest Foco wishes to re-open perspectives and inquiries on class, class analysis, class struggle, and social change and class as matters of unequivocally significant relevance to Chicana/o Studies.  We therefore invite proposals on topics such as:

  • The class status of Chicana/os and other Latina/os
  • The history of the labor movement in Chicana/o and other Latina/o communities
  • Immigration and race and class dynamics
  • Class as a factor in the experience of sexuality
  • Class and ideology in the transformation of Chicana/o social movements
  • Marxism and Chicana/o studies
  • Cultural studies and class
  • Class and identity politics
  • Studies of these issues in the context of the Pacific Northwest region

Please submit proposals to: Dr. Devon G. Peña, Chair of the Conference Program Committee, Department of Anthropology, Campus Box 353100, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-3100; or via email to:  Please use the attached form(s) for individual papers, organized panels, roundtables, films, and poster presentations. We anticipate having a conference web site available by the end of November 2006. Deadline for submission of panel, roundtable, or individual paper proposals is January 31, 2007.


El Otro Norte:
Raza, Race, and Resistance
in the Pacific Northwest

NACCS Pacific Northwest Regional Conference
and the Latino/a Northwest Research Symposium

Saturday, March 4th 2006,
Smith/CUE Bldg. 202,207,209 at Washington State University,Pullman



8:45 – 9:30 am    Registration and Opening Remarks, CUE Atrium

Exhibition Tables: Chicano/a Studies Books &

Daniel DeSiga, Pacific Northwest Chicano Aritst

9:30 – 11:00am    Encuentros:  Constructing Community and Identity in Northern Aztlán  
        Room: CUE 207
                               Chair: Cheris Brewer, Washington State University

                               From Texas to Washington State: Chicano/a Recruitment, Migration and Settlement
                               Josue Estrada, Washington State University

                               Rhetorics of La Raza: Some Implications for North Aztlán
                                Siskanna Naynaha, Washington State University
                               The Chicana Perspective on Feminist Therapy: Complicating White Feminist Therapy
                               Sarah Rangel, Washington State University

                              Comment: Carmen R. Lugo-Lugo, Washington State University

9:30 – 11:00am    Culture, Identity and Social Change: Subverted and Subversive Texts by our Communities for our Communities

                    Room: CUE 209
                              Chair:  Yolanda Flores Niemann, Washington State University
                              Finding the Individual within the Leviathan: Identity and Urban Form in “Amorres Perros
                              Nohemy Solorzano-Thompson and Jonathan Thompson,
                              Whitman College

                              Translations: Using the Cultural Arts as a Catalyst for Social Change in the Pacific Northwest
                              Tomas Alberto Madrigal, Central Washington University

                              Comment: Linda Zuñiga Heidenreich, Washington State University

11:00-12noon       Luncheon Buffet presented by San Miguel’s Taco at CUE Atrium

12:00-1:30pm, Smith/CUE 202

Keynote Speaker: Devon G. Peña

"Indigenous Diasporas and the Future of Eco-Justice in North America"
Professor of Anthropology and Chicano Studies
University of Washington, Seattle

1:30 – ­2:00 pm    Book Signing, CUE Atrium

2:00-3:30pm       Borders and Boundaries: The Politics of Immigration, Citizenship and Education

             Room: CUE 207
                              Chair:  Lisa Catanzarite, Washington State University
                              'Si muero lejos de tí … [México]’:Mexicanas and the Formation ofTransnational Citizenship, 1940-2000
                              Luz Maria Gordillo, Washington State University, Vancouver
Las Mujeres del Noreoste: Chicana Activists at the University of Washington
                              Raul Garcia, Independent Scholar
                    Dignidad Sin Fronteras
                              Rosalinda Guillen, De Comunidad a Comunidad Community to Community Development

                              Comment: The Audience

2:00-3:30pm Roundtable: Latino Coalition Building in Walla Walla:  Challenges and Opportunities?
                 Room: CUE 209
                              Facilitator:  Margo Tamez, Washington State University
                              Cynthia Selde, Latin American Forum
                              Berta Herrera Trejo, Education Coordinator for Broetje Orchards
                              Joey August, Latino Outreach Coordinator for Friends of Walla Walla
                              Comment: the Audience

Plenary: 3:30pm-5:00pm, Smith/CUE 203

“Past, Present and Future: Chicano/a Studies Research in the Pacific Northwest”

Chair, José M. Alamillo, Washington State University

Marcos Pizarro, San Jose State University
Jerry Garcia, Michigan State University
Gilberto Garcia, Eastern Washington University,
Maria Cuevas, Yakima Valley Community College

5:00 – 5:30 pm   Book Signing, CUE Atrium

5:00-6:00pm       Organizing Against the Minutemen on the U.S-Canada Border
                        Room: CUE 209
                              Facilitator: Rosalinda Guillen
                              Sponsored by WSU MECh

5:00-6:00pm       NACCS Pacific Northwest FOCO Meeting
                              Room: CUE 207
                              Facilitator: Nohemy Solorzano-Thompson

For more information please contact the conference organizers:

José M. Alamillo
Department of Comparative Ethnic Studies
Washington State University
Pullman, WA 99164-4010

Linda Zuñiga Heidenreich
Department of Women’s Studies
Washington State University
Pullman, WA or






































































































































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