Bearing Bandoleras:Transfigurative Liberation and the Iconography of la Nueva Chicana

  • Maylei Blackwell


Deploying a popular Chicano movement photo as a point of departure, this essay charts how dominant visual tropes within Chicano move-ment print culture helped to produce and maintain gendered political scripts about the terms of women political participation. In turn, Chicana activists engaged with political icons and politicized iconog-raphy in order to negotiate their own political agency and (re)figure themselves within movement iconography by creating new images of women’s revolutionary participation. More than just forms of visual representation, political iconography can be seen as a site of articula-tion, negotiation, and struggle. This essay explores how the figure of la Soldadera was transformed during the Chicano movement and how cultural icons and movement iconography served as a terrain of strug-gle over the signification or meaning of women’s political agency in the Chicano movement. This photograph (figure 9.1), which first appeared in the Chicano Student Movement newspaper in 1968 and was repub-lished in numerous places, including the first issue of La Raza magazine (where it was advertised as a political poster), represents larger discursive and ideological struggles around the role women played in the Chicano movement. It marks one point where “the transfigurative liberation of the icon”1 began to take place as Chicana feminists reclaimed narra-tives of women’s participation in the Mexican Revolution of 1910 as a way to negotiate a different political agency within the masculinist registers of Chicano nationalism.


Historical Narrative Political Subjectivity Mexican Woman Political Agency Mexican Revolution 
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Copyright information

© Neferti X. M. Tadiar and Angela Y. Davis 2005

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  • Maylei Blackwell

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