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Tempest, Arizona: Criminal Epistemologies and the Rhetorical Possibilities of Raza Studies

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Abstract

This essay looks at Ethnic Studies activism in Arizona through a rhetorical lens in order to highlight epistemological aspects of activities such as a high school Chicano Literature class, Roberto “Dr. Cintli” Rodriguez’s journalism, and student activism to defend the Mexican-American Studies Department. Taking rhetoric’s premise that language is at the center of knowledge construction (epistemology), this essay turns to Chicano activism as a language that produces knowledge differently. The participation of students, particularly in the indigenous spiritual runs, is an important example of the traditionally central role of students to the field of Chicano Studies. Runs also work inwardly to strengthen participants and build group cohesion. These practices, like Chicano and Ethnic Studies in general, constitute a critical dialectical way of thinking, a disruptive opposition to traditional rationalities that tend to gloss over colonialist histories and justify status quo racial inequalities. Thinking about these activities rhetorically allows readers to understand how the participants communicate with a wider audience and how they generate knowledge uniquely around Chicano Studies.

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Correspondence to Elias Serna.

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Serna, E. Tempest, Arizona: Criminal Epistemologies and the Rhetorical Possibilities of Raza Studies. Urban Rev 45, 41–57 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-012-0223-4

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Keywords

  • Rhetoric
  • Epistemology
  • Dialectic
  • Chicana/o (Raza) Studies
  • Ceremonial running
  • Activism