Home / Sun Devil Shelf Life / Colonial Legacies in Chicana/o Literature and Culture
Colonial Legacies in Chicana/o Literature and Culture book cover
September 2021
University of Arizona Press

College or Unit:

Colonial Legacies in Chicana/o Literature and Culture

Looking through the Kaleidoscope
Vanessa Fonseca-Chávez

"Colonial Legacies in Chicana/o Literature and Culture" exposes the ways in which colonialism is expressed in the literary and cultural production of the U.S. Southwest, a region that has experienced at least two distinct colonial periods since the 16th century.

Vanessa Fonseca-Chávez traces how Spanish colonial texts reflect the motivation for colonial domination. She argues that layers of U.S. colonialism complicate how Chicana/o literary scholars think about Chicana/o literary and cultural production. She brings into view the experiences of Chicana/o communities that have long-standing ties to the U.S. Southwest but whose cultural heritage is tied through colonialism to multiple nations, including Spain, Mexico and the United States.

While the legacies of Chicana/o literature simultaneously uphold and challenge colonial constructs, the metaphor of the kaleidoscope makes visible the rupturing of these colonial fragments via political and social urgencies. This book challenges readers to consider the possibilities of shifting our perspectives to reflect on stories told and untold and to advocate for the inclusion of fragmented and peripheral pieces within the kaleidoscope for more complex understandings of individual and collective subjectivities.

This book is intended for readers interested in how colonial legacies are performed in the U.S. Southwest, particularly in the context of New Mexico, Texas and Arizona. Readers will relate to the book’s personal narrative thread that provides a path to understanding fragmented identities.


Vanessa Fonseca-Chávez is the assistant dean of diversity, equity and inclusion in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts.

Praise for this book

“Piecing together fragments of Chicana/o literary and cultural legacies via the metaphor of the kaleidoscope, Fonseca-Chávez asks what it means to truly consider how fragmented identities, colonial histories, and literary archives can lead to new decolonial insights and epistemologies. She offers a powerful reading of celebrated pre-Chicana/o and contemporary Chicana/o literature, historical monuments, and embodied practices, and shares her personal narrative to remind us how our colonial histories continue to haunt us."

Karen R. Roybal
Assistant professor, Colorado College

“'Colonial Legacies in Chicana/o Literature and Culture' directly address the politics and power of memory, representation, and canon. Fonseca-Chávez argues that by addressing literary heritages with eyes wide open, we can produce honest critiques of the canon. Only by doing so will we be able to account for the very diverse body that is Chicanx literature. In relation, only by doing so will we be able to form the critical coalitions we need as we move into the 21st century.”

Linda Heidenreich
Associate professor, Washington State University