Parallel Histories and Alternative Voices
An exhibition in the conference room of the Department of Chicano Studies, UCSB
October - December 1999
Ethnic California: Parallel Histories and Alternative Voices is the title of this fall quarter's exhibit organized by the California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. The exhibit broadly chronicles the historical presence of four of California's major ethnic groups, namely African Americans, Asian Americans, Chicanos/ Latinos, and Native Americans. The exhibit offers a visual chronology of notable eras in California's history, focusing on UCSB faculty and student projects that centered on local and California ethnic history, complemented by departmental holdings that give it a broader context. While conquest, subjugation and protest are inevitable recurring themes in California's past, the exhibit also situates the historical presence of ethnic cultures within a broad timeframe that pre-dates the white settlements by close to one hundred years, back to about 1769. In the case of the indigenous populations, these civilizations had flourished for close to 40,000 years. The exhibit challenges the popular beliefs that the people who made California history came from the east and moved westward, pursuing Manifest Destiny. The exhibit's use of facsimiles of historical documents, digitized images, and maps also is also compelling, as it visually documents the superimposition of an expansionist culture upon much older cultures that were subdued. Finally, the exhibit offers a glimpse of the recent history of cultural minorities in the local community. Selected texts are used to explore alternative perspectives and address the ethnic and racial dialogue.