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La Pinta: Chicana/o Prisoner Literature, Culture, and Politics

University of Texas Press
1/1/2010

La Pinta: Chicana/o Prisoner Literature, Culture, and Politics Overview

In this groundbreaking study based on archival research about Chicana and Chicano prisoners-known as Pintas and Pintos-as well as fresh interpretations of works by renowned Pinta and Pinto authors and activists, B. V. Olguín provides crucial insights into the central roles that incarceration and the incarcerated have played in the evolution of Chicana/o history, cultural paradigms, and oppositional political praxis. This is the first text on prisoners in general, and Chicana/o and Latina/o prisoners in particular, that provides a range of case studies from the nineteenth century to the present. Olguín places multiple approaches in dialogue through the pairing of representational figures in the history of Chicana/o incarceration with specific themes and topics. Case studies on the first nineteenth-century Chicana prisoner in San Quentin State Prison, Modesta Avila; renowned late-twentieth-century Chicano poets Raúl Salinas, Ricardo Sánchez, and Jimmy Santiago Baca; lesser-known Chicana pinta and author Judy Lucero; and infamous Chicano drug baron and social bandit Fred Gómez Carrasco are aligned with themes from popular culture such as prisoner tattoo art and handkerchief art; Hollywood Chicana/o gangxploitation and the prisoner film American Me; and prisoner education projects. Olguín provides a refreshing critical interrogation of Chicana/o subaltern agency, which too often is celebrated as unambiguously resistant and oppositional. As such, this study challenges long-held presumptions about Chicana/o cultures of resistance and proposes important explorations of the complex and contradictory relationship between Chicana/o agency andideology.


La Pinta: Chicana/o Prisoner Literature, Culture, and Politics Table Of Content

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xii

Introduction: La Pinta: History, Culture, and Ideology in Chicana/o Convict Discourse 1

Part 1 Land and Liberty

Chapter 1 Toward a Materialist History of Chicana/o Criminality: Modesta Avila as Paradigmatic Pinta 37

Chapter 2 Chicana/o Archetypes: Jimmy Santiago Baca and the Pinto Picaresque 65

Part 2 Embodied Discourses

Chapter 3 Declamatory Pinto Poetry: The Masculinist Poetics and Materialist Politics of Ricardo Sánchez's Poesía de Chingazos 93

Chapter 4 The Pinto Political Unconscious: Tattoos, Abjection, and Agency in Raúl Salinas's Convict Body Altars 118

Part 3 Crime and Commodification

Chapter 5 Hollywood Placas: Semiotics, Spectatorship, and Ideology in American Me 151

Chapter 6 The Pinto as Palimpsest: Fred Gómez Carrasco and the South Texas Culture Wars 176

Part 4 Storming the Tower

Chapter 7 Judy Lucero's Gynocritical Prison Poetics and Materialist Chicana Politics 209

Chapter 8 Writing Resistance? Academic Institutions, Ideology, and "Prison Work" 231

Conclusion: Pinta/os, Human Rights Regimes, and a New Paradigm for U.S. Prisoner Rights Activism 261

Notes 282

Bibliography 292

Index 313


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