June 1, 1998
Patricia Zavella, a professor in the Community Studies Department, was one of 40 scholars invited to participate in a recent conference that was part of President Clinton's Initiative on Race, One America. Titled "Social Science Knowledge on Race, Racism, and Race Relations," the conference was sponsored by the American Sociological Association (ASA) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Zavella was the only Chicana scholar present and one of two anthropologists at the conference, held in Virginia.
To facilitate in-depth discussion and policy recommendations, the invited scholars prepared memoranda that synthesized existing research in their areas of expertise and pointed out areas where we need further research. Zavella's research has examined the relationship between work and family among Chicanas/os in various sectors and regions, including food processing in northern California and Mexico, and garments and electronics in Albuquerque. She submitted a research memo on "Latinos in the Southwest: Work, Poverty, and Family."
"There were several of us who wanted to steer the discussion beyond a black-white model of race relations which views race as an extraneous variable, towards a perspective which is multiracial and historicizes the complexities and changing nature of race relations in American society," Zavella noted. "For those of us living in California or major urban centers such as New York or Chicago, the rich racial diversity of the local populations, especially the sea change occurring because of immigration, is something that we must contend with in our research, teaching, and indeed our daily lives. Several of us were also concerned with the intersection of race and gender, and how women of color experience the debilitating effects of racism and sexism."
The ASA anticipates synthesizing all of the discussion and research findings into a report, which will be presented to the Commission on Clinton's Initiative on Race, One America. "I really learned a lot and was very impressed with the quality of the research memos and the discussion during the conference," Zavella noted. "While we didn't always agree with one another, we did have a collective sense that this was an important project for the nation as we move into the next century."
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