Chicano studies are an interdisciplinary approach towards the study and examination of Latino culture, akin to other ethnic studies, such as Native American Studies, or Black Studies. It developed in the 1960s and 1970s as the result of the growing Chicano Movement. The term “Chicano,” originally derogatory, was adopted by a new generation of Mexican Americans as a source of ethnic pride.
Chicano, or Chicana/o, studies originated in the increasing opportunities for minorities to enter universities in the 1960s, along with rising student activism of the period. In 1967, UC Berkeley professor Ocatvio Romano began publishing El Grito: A Journal of Contemporary Mexican-American Thought, which served as the first platform for much of what would constitute Chicano studies in the future. In 1969, the Plan de Santa Barbara emerged at UC Santa Barbara, emphasizing the need for higher education within the Chicano community. Many consider this document to be the manifesto of Chicano studies. The following year the journal Aztlan: A Journal of Chicano Studies began publishing.
Today, many major American universities, not just the University of California system, but also universities in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and even the University of Minnesota, have Chicano studies programs. There are currently two threads within Chicano studies, one of which seeks activist change, while the other seeks to work within academia.