In recognition of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 to October 15, we are presenting this article by Nicolás Kanellos, published previously in The Readex Report:
Cultural Conflict and the Battle of the Sexes in Hispanic American Newspapers
By Nicolás Kanellos, Brown Foundation Professor and Director of Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage, University of Houston
Among the various types of writing in early-20th century Hispanic American immigrant newspapers was a genre essential in forming and reinforcing the attitudes of Hispanic communities. It was the crónica, or chronicle, a short, weekly column that humorously and satirically commented on current topics and social habits. In Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries, the crónica had already been cultivated extensively and had helped to define national identity over the course of the 19th century.
In America, however, the crónica came to serve purposes never imagined in Mexico or Spain. From Los Angeles to San Antonio and even up to Chicago, Mexican moralists assumed pseudonyms (in keeping with the tradition of the crónica) and, from this masked perspective, wrote scathing satirical commentaries in the first person. As witnesses to both American and Mexican culture, the cronistas were greatly influenced by popular jokes, anecdotes and speech, and in general, their columns were a mirror of the surrounding social environment.