Maylei Blackwell “Scales of Resistance: Indigenous Women’s Transborder Activism”

Maylei Blackwell

Part of the New Vocabularies, New Grammars: Imagining Other Worlds Series

November 9, 2023

Maylei Blackwell: “Scales of Resistance: Indigenous Women’s Transborder Activism”

Event Description

Professor Maylei Blackwell, of UCLA’s César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o Studies and Women’s Studies Department, will speak on her recent book Scales of Resistance: Indigenous Women’s Transborder Activism. After the public lecture, Cristina Méndez (Ph.D. Candidate, Graduate School of Education) will lead a conversation with Prof. Blackwell and the public.

In Scales of Resistance, Maylei Blackwell narrates how Indigenous women’s activism in Mexico and its diaspora weaves in and between local, national, continental, and transborder scales. Blackwell reveals the importance of moving across different types of scale and contrasting colonial divisions of scale itself with Indigenous conceptions of scale, space, solidarity, and connection.

This is the second event in the CLACS series New Vocabularies, New Grammars: Imagining Other Worlds. In this space, we focus on critics and intellectuals who, in their forms of writing and thinking, undo the divisions and separations between disciplines and genres, and between political action and intellectual engagement. In this practice of border/crossing, new languages and grammars can be imagined to signify other worlds to resist and oppose the imposed violence of colonial epistemes. These scholars, critics, and political actors offer the dynamism of indeterminacy, inviting practices that bring together words and worlds.


Maylei Blackwell’s book, Scales of Resistance: Indigenous Women’s Transborder Activism (Duke 2023), draws on twenty-five years of research accompanying indigenous women’s organizing in Mexico and its diaspora and over 70 oral histories. She is the author of the landmark ¡Chicana Power! Contested Histories of Feminism in the Chicano Movement (University of Texas, 2011) as well as a co-editor of ¡Chicana Movidas! New Narratives of Activism and Feminism in the Movement Era (University of Texas, 2018). She is the co-editor of the Critical Latinx Indigeneities special issue of Latino Studies and has organized the working group of the same name. She is a Professor of Chicana/o and Central American Studies and Gender Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles where she is affiliated in LGBT Studies. She co-created and co-directed the digital story platform Mapping Indigenous Los Angeles ( Maylei is currently working on rematriating historical memory and seeding Indigenous social movements through the Mobile Indigenous Community Archive (MICA) in collaboration with Indigenous social movements.

Cristina S. Méndez is a PhD candidate in Education in the Critical Studies of Race, Class and Gender program. She is also part of the designated emphasis in Indigenous Language Revitalization. Her research focuses on the lived experiences and sense-making of Mam women activists who organize across multiple scales for the maintenance of their language and culture and for the wellbeing of their communities across the US, Mexico, and Guatemala. Through collaboration with the activists, Cristina examines how revitalization movements offer the potential for coalition-building and pedagogical innovations for a decolonial future.