Chicana/o Spirituality: an Expression of Identity

Abstract Chicana/o Spirituality: An Expression of Identity By Jesus S Mendoza Master of Arts in Chicana and Chicano Studies This study explores spirituality as a tool of empowerment, self-determination and decolonization within selected Chicana/o writings and art. The study affirms that spirituality can serve as a conduit to creating a decolonized culture and offers a way to move forward beyond mainstream Western ideology. This is done by analyzing how Chicana/o artists and writers, Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya (1972); Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldúa (1988); the visual art, Our Lady by Alma Lopez (1999), and Reinvented Icon for this Time and Place by Cesar Martinez (1991) reflect spirituality in their work. Most importantly, they use their art as a way to respond to institutional efforts to marginalize Chicana/o spirituality and culture. The study of spirituality is a lifetime project that requires additional research in order to deal with all its complexities, contradictions, and possibilities. I do not attempt to claim that spirituality is a universal way to understand the world, but I dare to say that many people in the world understand that it is a good way to heal the open wounds in the community. Chicana/os have used many tools to help heal historical trauma and to develop conocimiento (knowledge). Our spiritual knowledge (conocimiento) helps us change those binaries that do not work for the community like, female/male, white/brown, body/mind, and other "culturas que traicionan." As an educational researcher, I find spirituality can be regarded as a tool that encourages self-determination and rejects any imposed limitations.