WSU Represented in Chicago at NACCS

Posted on May 7, 2012 by


By Margarita E. Pignataro


National Association for Chicana Chicano Studies (NACCS) is a yearly conference that welcomes research that fosters social justice and Ethnic Studies. This year the conference took place from March 14 to 17in Chicago, the overall theme was NACCS 40 Celebrating Scholarship and Activism.


NACCS was founded in 1972 to encourage committed, critical, and rigorous research to further the political actualization for the Chicana and Chicano community. NACCS members and conference presenters are not only Chicanas or U.S. born Latinas, they are  Latinas, Hispania’s, Caribeñas and non-Latinas from many disciplines who believe in social justice and whose research challenges the prevailing structures and ideologies of inequality based on classist, racist, sexist, and heterosexist privileges in society.   The participants, scholars and artists from academia and community, gather every year at a different location in the United States or Mexico.

The Call for Papers for NACCS and the main theme of the conference is typically announced in September. Proposal submission is accepted through October 15 of each year, and invitations typically announced in January.  Pignataro had participated at three other NACCS conferences (Mexico D.F, Albuquerque N.M and Seattle WA), however, this year was the first time she joined other scholars to form a panel.  Their proposals were accepted and Pignataro presented a paper entitled Chicana Theater Movement: From Teatro Campesino to Cihualt Productions, dramatized a short theatrical excerpt from Luis Valdez’ Las dos caras del patroncitos  with other panel members ─Randy Ontiveros from the University of Maryland and Gustavo Licon from Itaca College─ and arranged a power point presentation with highlights of the last 40 years of Chicana/Latina Theater in the United States.  Some highlights were: playwrights Luis Váldez, Estela Portillo-Trambley, Josefina López, Cherríe Moraga, and theater companies Teatro Campesino, Teatro Bravo!, Brave! For Women in the Arts, and Cihuatl Productions.

The conference venue location was the downtown Palmer House Hilton, and a plethora of panels, workshops, roundtables and activities were offered simultaneously on two floors of the hotel.  A few conference topics were: Migration, Identity, U.S. Latina Transnational Imaginary; Women of Color Filmmaking; Music as Agency; Black and Brown Solidarity and Coalition Issues; Perspectives on Environmental Justice; Addressing Bullying of LGBT and Other Minorities in Schools; Strategies for Academic Survival; Save Ethnic Studies Fundraiser No to H.B. 2281, and a Teatro Luna (Chicago’s first and only Latina theatre group) presentation.  On last day of the conference, St. Patrick’s Day, downtown Chicago turned into a lively roaming green fashion showcase and everyone was in Éirinn go brácho spirit.


NACCS conference organizers arranged an excursion on the last day of the conference to Chicago’s Mexican American neighborhood: Pilsen. Juan Mora-Torres, a faculty member from DePaul University, hosted the walking tour and the group experienced the symbolic and historic neighborhood vibrant with murals of icons, such as César Chávez, indigenous ancestral and United Farm Worker symbols.  Aztec calendars were engraved in the pavement and mosaic facades brightened the tour.  Casa Aztlán, Hector Duarte’s House and the National Museum of Mexican Art were highlights and Taquería Los Comales offered a lunch stop and time to network with other Chicana scholars and comment on the presence Mexicans have had in Chicago since the 1910’s.

Pignataro could not leave Chicago without visiting the Paseo Boricua and Humboldt Park, Chicago’s Puerto Rican community, that enjoys one 59 feet steel Puerto Rican Flag set at each end of Division Street ─one near Humboldt Park and at the other extreme before Ciclo Urbano an Urban Bike Shop.  Pignataro recruited Ontiveros and, with his zip car membership, it was a quick visit north of downtown Chicago.  Humboldt Park was alive with its St. Patrick Day celebration, however, instead of a green fashion, there were sounds of congos and guiros, Caribeñ@s, Puerto Ricans and other Latin@s dancing in the park, and the smell of carne asada and other grilling aromas.  Both ventures were culturally and educationally rewarding.

The NACCS conference welcomes presenters and attendees who are interested in and want to engage in discourse about Latin@ Studies.  It was the first time WSU was represented at a NACCS conference, and the first time Pignataro networked with other Massachusetts NACCS scholars: Mari Casteñeda, Department of Communication at UMass Amherst, and Irene Mata, Women Studies Department at Wellesley College.  Although no longer with colleagues in the Southwest, Pignataro hopes to build bridges across communities and universities with students and faculty here in the Northeast, and perhaps one year NACCS will be held in Massachusetts.  As a second semester adjunct professor, Pignataro looks forward to learning more about the WSU community. She is especially thankful to the WSU Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Opportunity Office who supported her NACCS attendance and thus, motivated the confirmation of the conference arrangements.


If you are interested in NACCS and its mission please visit:

For more information and images concerning Pilsen check out these sites:

To check out the Humboldt Park Puerto Rican neighborhood visit:;


Editor’s Note :Dr. Margarita E. Pignataro is an adjunct in World Languages and English Department and contributed this article to the Voice

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