Fonseca-Chávez says that in her book, “Colonial Legacies in Chicana/o Literature and Culture: Looking Through the Kaleidoscope,” she argues for communities to not look past each other. Her goal is for people to learn about the dynamics of Hispanic rural communities and how their shared experiences in rural environments can be beneficial to the work imagined together and in partnerships with other communities.  

“When we went to St. Johns and Concho, we scheduled 16 interviews in two days. You could just go from one house to the other. We needed to schedule a lunch break, but they would just open their homes and feed us lunch. They would show us their prized possessions,” Fonseca-Chávez said of her time working on the ASU Public History Collaborative Grant. “Their willingness to share their stories, their homes and food with you — the students that were with me had never experienced that before.”

She said there is a lot people can learn from Hispanic rural communities, including expanding their understanding of how communities come together and tell their stories of querencia. 

For Fonseca-Chávez, querencia is a journey of discovery that leads her to look at her family's history, her communities and her own desire to find a place, or many places, of belonging. 

She says she misses the rural life she grew up with and that her alternate career would be a farmer. When she was in graduate school, she would go back to her parents’ home in Albuquerque and plant massive gardens. Now, she has a small garden planted in a wheelbarrow in her backyard with many plants, including aloe vera plants that had belonged to her late grandfather.

“There’s something about working with your hands. The work ethic instilled in you. About having to figure something out because you didn’t have all the resources,” she said.

Fonseca-Chávez believes that querencia, the sense of place and the resilience you build, stays with you, no matter where you go. She likes a quote from the late Chicana scholar Gloria Anzaldúa, who wrote in “Borderlands/La Frontera: La Nueva Mestiza,” "I am a turtle; wherever I go I carry 'home' on my back."

“About 10 years ago while we were living in Laramie, Wyoming, the pipes froze. So, I brought in snow, melted it on the stove, and my husband was like, ‘What are you doing? We can just go to the gas station for water,’” she recalled, laughing. “I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I can do that.’ But my instincts just kicked in.”

Kelley Karnes

Marketing Content Specialist, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts