AuthorCummings, Laura Lee.
KeywordsMexican American youth -- Arizona -- Tucson -- Social life and customs.
Mexican American youth -- Arizona -- Tucson -- History.
Committee ChairHill, Jane H.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe pachuco culture is a rich contemporary tradition born in the southwestern United States in the early 20th century. The innovative youth culture emerged in U.S.-Mexico border towns, but contemporary, urban-hip cholo forms are now found in cities in both countries, many distant from the border. Among working-class and informal sector youth partial to a particular dress style, (the zootsuit is best known), and a cryptic, hybrid language, being pachuco is a form of life with demonstrable continuity over sixty years, in social organization, language, and style. This research is the first ethnography with older men and women of the earliest Southwest generations associated with the culture. Their life history and linguistic narratives speak of the formative moments of being pachuco in Tucson, Arizona. The interpretive frameworks used by consultants are explored as they discuss history, culture, language and identity. To do this, I use recently developed theoretical tools in linguistic anthropology, especially the concepts of metapragmatics and indexicality (Silverstein 1985, 1979) and dialogicality (Bakhtin 1984, 1929). Uniquely among ethnographies of pachucos, I attend to the language use of women, their experiences and perspectives. The major findings are: (1) The youth culture was present in Tucson and the Southwest in at least 1929, if not earlier; (2) research on the regional Indian roots of the culture has been neglected; (3) females have participated in the youth culture from early on; (4) stigmatization and criminalization of the culture continues today in forms resembling the dynamics surrounding the so-called "Zootsuit Riots" of 1943; and (5) in linguistic theory, formulations relating to the transmission of indexical information may need reformulation to account for languages like Pachuco where the interplay of a number of systems creates a high degree of symbolic ambiguity.