Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social [MALCS]

By: Cynthia E. Orozco

Type: General Entry

Published: June 29, 2021

Updated: January 2, 2022

Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social (MALCS) is a professional national academic organization that promotes Chicana/Latina studies and mentors undergraduate and graduate student Chicana/Latina scholars as well as fosters support for Latinas in higher education, community women, and artists. Chicana/Latina graduate students and professors founded MALCS at University of California at Davis (UC Davis) in 1982 as a response to the lack of Latina scholars across the United States and sexism in the National Association for Chicano Studies, which was founded in the 1970s. Adaljiza Sosa-Riddell, professor of political science at the University of California at Davis, was the primary organizer, and historian Antonia Castañeda, then a Stanford graduate student who was born in Crystal City, Texas, was an early advocate. Early Tejana supporters included historian Cynthia Orozco of Cuero, Texas, and Emma Pérez, a historian and novelist from El Campo, Texas, while both were graduate students at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Orozco, the organization’s first historian, prepared its first chronology and helped organize the first Southern California MALCS meeting at Pomona College in Claremont, California. Castañeda prepared another history timeline in 201l.

Nationally recognized figures such as farm labor activist Dolores Huerta and Tejana lesbian author Gloria Anzaldúa have addressed members at its summer institutes which began in 1985 and have been held annually until the pandemic in 2020. MALCS also established the Chicana/Latina Research Center, initially called the Chicana/Latina Research Project, at UC Davis in October 1990 to bring attention to and foster scholarship about gender within Chicano Studies and support Chicana/Latina scholars. Sosa-Riddell served as its director for its first ten years. The center later closed, and its records were donated to the Shields Library of UC Davis.

MALCS is organized into chapters on university campuses and expanded to Texas when Orozco returned to Austin and helped establish a MALCS chapter at the University of Texas at Austin. Professor Norma E.Cantú organized the first MALCS national summer institute to be held in Texas at on the campus of Laredo State University/Laredo Community College. When she was a professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) she joined Antonia Castañeda who was a professor at St. Mary's University to found the first campus chapter. Based at UTSA, the group included members from area institutions of higher learning. The most active Texas chapters have been at the University of Texas at San Antonio and the University of Texas at El Paso, both of which have hosted MALCS’s annual summer institute on their campuses. From 2009 to 2014 and 2017 to 2020, the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) has been a major sponsor of the organization, in part, due to the advocacy of professors Josie Méndez-Negrete and Marie “Keta” Miranda. Lisa Hernandez, a professor at St. Edward’s University in Austin, also served as webmaster. Sociologist Deborah R. Vargas from San Antonio, a past University of Texas at Austin MALCS member and a professor at Rutgers University, helped found the Latina and Latino Studies Association in 2014.

The women of MALCS have had a major impact in the National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies, leading to gender-inclusivity and greater sensitivity towards sexuality. Within MALCS, Deena Gonzalez of Pomona College in Claremont, California, and Emma Pérez introduced sexuality as categories of analysis in the study of women. The organization invited membership from gender non-conforming, transgender, queer, Chicana, Latina, Afro-Latina, Asian-Latina, Native American, and Indigenous women in the early 2010s.

MALCS sponsors Chicana/Latina Studies: The Journal of MALCS, an interdisciplinary peer-reviewed academic journal, previously named Voces. In 2019 its lead editor was Sonia M. Aleman from UTSA. Previously MALCS had a newsletter and monographic series. The website includes a radio program with interviews.

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Chicana/Latina Studies: The Journal of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social (, accessed June 4, 2021. Teresa Cordova, Norma Elia Cantu, Gilberto Cardenas, Juan Garcia, and Christine M. Sierra, eds., Chicana Voices: Intersections of Class, Race, and Gender (Austin: Center for Mexican American Studies, University of Texas Press, 1986). “History,” Chicana/Latina Research Center (, accessed June 4, 2021. Wilma Mankiller, Gwendolyn Mink, Marysa Navarro, Barbara Smith, and Gloria Steinhem Sosa, eds., Reader’s Companion to U.S. Women’s History (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998). Cynthia E. Orozco, “A Brief Timeline of MALCS Events,” MALCS (, accessed June 4, 2021. Vicki L. Ruiz and Virginia Sanchez Korral, eds., Latinas in the United States, a Historical Encyclopedia Volume 2 & 3 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006).

  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Activists
  • Education
  • Organizations
  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans
  • Women
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Academics
Time Periods:
  • Texas Post World War II

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Cynthia E. Orozco, “Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social [MALCS],” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 29, 2021
January 2, 2022

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