Latina/o (Public/Legal) Intellectuals, Social Crises, and Contemporary Social Movements
18 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2013
Date Written: Spring 2010
In this Essay, I seek to contribute briefly to this nascent (and renewed) discourse about the social relevance and action potential of critical sociolegal scholars-in particular those who affiliate with the LatCrit community/political project. In Part II, I explain why I chose to eschew reporting on my research into the intellectual history of the public intellectual or the abstracted definitional exercise of "being an intellectual." Further, I discuss why I chose to problematize the subject by historicizing it via brief evocations and vignettes about particular individuals who arguably "were" Latina/o intellectuals. Some of these Latina/o intellectuals were legally educated, and all engaged particular segments of the public as agents, actors and subjects of history. I then describe these individuals, highlighting their social contexts (especially the social movements that they engaged in) and citing to Chicana/Latino Studies literature that other critical sociolegal scholars may wish to consider. I conclude the Essay in Part III, asking the LatCrit community not to limit prematurely our inquiry about Latina/o intellectuals to sociolegal scholars. I suggest that we focus less on who might be usefully characterized as a Latina/o intellectual and more on studying and teaching about people who respond to particular situations in ways that combine critical theory with organized social change activities. In particular, I ask activists, scholars, students and others who affiliate with LatCrit theory to reflect on how their (our) intellectual work aids local community struggles and the larger social crises of our times. For example, where are we (including those who might be Latina/o intellectuals) in the struggle to reform immigration law and policy in 2010? Where are we (activists, scholars, and intellectuals of any outgroup) in the defense and organizing of impoverished people to obtain and preserve "substantive security" in a time of worldwide economic recession and disaster capitalism?
Keywords: LatCrit, Latina Latino intellectuals
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