Lori Gallegos, Emma Velez

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In their resistance against racism and sexism, Chicana feminists have made distinctive contributions to the existentialist idea of self-creation. For Chicana feminists, self-creation is a liberatory practice that one engages in to affirm oneself in the face of oppressive cultural norms. The central method for self-creation is the practice of taking critical inventory, which involves sorting through the ways one’s lineage, the way one grew up, and the traditions and self-understandings that one has been taught may or may not be valuable for who one is and who one would like to become. The idea of self-creation in Chicana feminism is responsive to the particular ways in which Chicanas have theorized the nature of the self as rooted, as multiplicitous, and as relational. Accordingly, self-creation involves, first, forging new connections with one’s roots. In order to confront the disconnection from oneself that occurs within oppressive cultures, this work involves searching ancestral wisdom for more authentic, healing ways of being. Second, self-creation requires embracing experiences of the self as ambiguous, in-between, and contradictory as integral aspects of struggles for authenticity and liberation. Third, self-creation is a communal and intergenerational practice. In their efforts to personally transcend oppressive historical legacies and cultures, Chicana feminists engage in liberatory work for other women of color and for future generations. We offer two sets of examples where these views on self-creation are manifest. The first is through storytelling. Recognizing the importance of narratives for the ways in which we think about ourselves, Chicana feminists have rewritten founding narratives in order to challenge the oppressive ideologies those narratives support. The second example comes from the practice of parenting. By reflecting critically on the ways in which they were raised, Chicana mothers have reclaimed their role as parents to help end intergenerational cycles of oppression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Existentialism
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781040006290
ISBN (Print)9781032162584
StatePublished - Jan 1 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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