Francisco H. Vázquez (1992)

Why, indeed, will the people never know what they must know in
order to live, to survive? Why the fear to extend the knowledge
that shall free us? Poets like Sanchez were probably banished from
Plato’s republic for asking this kind of question. Today, however, the
status of knowledge (what is truth? how do we know?) is considered
a crucial issue in academic circles. For example, Mario Barrera states:

• . . the politics of the Chicano community can be expected to
revolve around both class and colonial divisions in a complex
manner whose outlines we can only dimly perceive in the current
period of confusion and redefinition.

More recently, in a review of the models used to study Mexican
political behavior, Juan Gomez-Quinones decries the dominant liberal-
conservative pluralistic myths which “often are not only ahistorical but
factually erroneous.” He is also critical of the reactions against this
analysis by some social scientists who:

(in) their haste to replace the dominant liberal interpretation with
a more profound one,. . . proved to be too facile in suggesting an “internal colony model,” a discrimination related to economic
structures and later suggesting consciousness and language as
explanatory factors.

But this quest for “knowledge that shall free us,” for adequate
analytical models, is not characteristic only of Chicano Studies or
Chicano reality. In effect:

(it) seems increasingly probable that Western culture is in the middle
of a fundamental transformation: a “shape of life” is growing old. In
retrospect, this transformation may be as radical (but as gradual) as
the shift from a medieval to a modem society. Accordingly, this
moment in the history of the West is pervaded by profound yet little-
comprehended change, and uncertainty, and ambivalence.
It is precisely, this shift from an industrial to a post-industrial society,
this radical transformation of the global economy, of the way we
produce knowledge, and thus culture itself, which is termed

Clearly, postmodernism includes a variety of transformations that
involve everyday practices, economic organization, the grounding of
science, aesthetics, ethics and philosophy. But even in the face of a
multitude of positions regarding postmodernism, it is generally agreed
that its most characteristic thesis addresses the relationship between
power and knowledge.

In this vein, I contend that the difficulties we—Meshicano poets,
scholars, working men and women—encounter are based precisely on
the intertwinement and symbiotic power/knowledge relations specific
to the Meshicano. First, Michel Foucault’s discussion of two predominant theories of power will be re-produced, along with his tentative hypotheses, suggestions and methodological guidelines for a different, perhaps more adequate, analysis of power. On this basis, the power/knowledge relations manifested by and within Meshicano discourse in general and Chicano Studies in particular will be discussed. Finally, after mapping the geography of this discourse, the techniques and mechanisms through which it is robbed of its power will be described. May the following words serve, if for nothing else, as “una lagrima que rompe el silencio en el ceno del cocodrilo.”

There are two prominent systems for approaching the analysis of
power… [click for full essay]

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