Center for Mexican American Studies and Research
The Center for Mexican American Studies and Research (CMASR) at Our Lady of the Lake University is dedicated to drawing on our expertise as a Hispanic Serving Institution, steeped in the rich Mexican American culture and history of San Antonio's Westside. The mission of the CMASR is to provide intellectual leadership and resources to support the development and dissemination of knowledge about the histories, cultures, and contributions of Mexican Americans, broadly defined, with an emphasis on the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.
The goal of the CMASR is to facilitate faculty and student research collaborations and community partnerships that generate inclusive spaces and programs that center the diversity of Mexican American experiences from comparative and transnational perspectives.
The CMASR is composed of faculty affiliates who work together to design programs that support the incorporation of Mexican American Studies across academic disciplines and departments and help cultivate the Mexican American Studies pipeline from K-12 to higher education. The CMASR is committed to OLLU’s social justice mission and recognition of the importance of Mexican American communities to the past, present, and future vitality of Texas, the United States and the Americas.
The CMASR has as its central social justice mission, the following three pillars:
- Mexican American/Chicanx/Latinx student mentorship and success
- Faculty development and research support
- Community engagement in Mexican American/Chicanx/Latinx communities
We begin locally by honoring our ancestors, the original peoples of this land, the Yanaguana, and the Indigenous principal of balance and harmony in all our relations. In this spirit, we support the university in fulfilling its social justice mission as a Hispanic Serving Institution rooted in San Antonio’s rich cultural heritage and expand outward to support our students to serve with faith and wisdom to enrich their communities and improve the world. Through our comparative approach, the CMASR reaches out to all university communities invested in our commitment to diversity and equity university wide.
This culturally centered and dynamic approach to Mexican American cultural and scholarly programming provides a model for enriching all students, faculty and staff, fostering cultural competence and respect through the exploration of our intercultural similarities as well as our cultural specificities.
What We Do
Events and Programming
The CMASR collaborates with faculty and student affiliates as well as university departments and organizations on campus and in the community to produce events, training, and programs that promote a deeper understanding of Mexican American culture as part of the ongoing project of promoting social justice, anti-racism, inclusivity, and equity at the university and in the broader society.
Research and Faculty Development
OLLU's faculty and student affiliates have diverse expertise in Mexican American culture and community development to the university as reflected in the coursework, research, and creative activities that they bring to the university. It is part of the CMASR mission to support the interdisciplinary research and scholarly activities of students and faculty involving Mexican American/Chicanx/Latinx populations.
The CMASR is a rich resource of valuable historic documents and information that includes the Spanish Colonial Historical Research Collection, the María Antonietta Berriozábal Collection and the Mexican American Collection. Our goal is to support the preservation and digitization of existing materials, ensure that an archivist is onsite to manage the documents, and to continue acquisition of collections and to make these materials widely accessible to students, scholars and community researchers.
The special collections comprise approximately 300 linear feet of archival documents that focus on the history, culture, and social movements of Hispanic peoples in San Antonio and the South Texas region over the past 300 years from the Spanish colonial period to the present. The “Old Spanish Missions” collection consists of microfilms (and digitized images of the microfilms) of the archival documents of the five colonial Spanish missions of San Antonio, including the Alamo, Mission San José, Mission Concepción, Mission Espada, and Mission San Juan Capistrano, which have collectively been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the latter four of which have been designated as a National Historical Park. The original archival documents are housed in Mexico, are not accessible to the public, and are in deteriorated condition, so the microfilmed documents (and digitized images of the microfilms) are the only records available for archival research on these historical sites.
The Old Spanish Missions collection is supplemented by additional microfilmed records from European and Mexican archives covering the history of Texas during the Spanish colonial period (1718-1821) and Mexican period (1821-1836). CMASR also houses archival collections documenting important social movements of Mexican Americans in San Antonio from the late 19th century to the present. The largest of these collections is the Maria Antonietta Berriozábal Papers, which document the work of the first Hispanic councilwoman in San Antonio from 1981 to 1991. Additional collections include the papers of La Sociedad de la Unión, a mutual aid society for Mexican Americans from 1886 to 1980; a digital collection of the bilingual newspaper El Pueblo from 1979 to 1982; the Segundo de Febrero Papers, document the annual commemoration in San Antonio beginning in 1977 of the signing of the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo; and the Las Hermanas Collection, documents the activity of the first group in the Catholic Church in the U.S to represent Spanish-speaking women, founded in 1971.
Pedagogy, Curriculum, and Mentorship
The CMASR strives to be a leader in the creation of programs and curriculum that support the educational success of Mexican American/Chicanx/Latinx students and first-generation college students. This goal is multifaceted and involves anti-racist pedagogy, MAS curriculum development, culturally responsive mentorship programs, and the cultivation of K-12 partnerships. The CMASR supports the advancement and growth of the Comparative Mexican American Studies program and the incorporation of Mexican American Studies throughout the university as part of the general education curriculum and across academic disciplines and departments and helps to strengthen the K-12 to higher education pipeline through the expansion of Mexican American Studies and ethnic studies in the public schools.