Starving for Justice
Hunger Strikes, Spectacular Speech, and the Struggle for Dignity
In the 1990s three college campuses in California exploded as Chicano/a and Latino/a students went on hunger strikes. Through courageous self-sacrifice, these students risked their lives to challenge racial neoliberalism, budget cuts, and fee increases. The strikers acted and spoke spectacularly and, despite great odds, produced substantive change.
Social movement scholars have raised the question of why some people risk their lives to create a better world. In Starving for Justice, Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval uses interviews and archival material to examine people’s willingness to make the extreme sacrifice and give their lives in order to create a more just society.
Popular memory and scholarly discourse around social movements have long acknowledged the actions of student groups during the 1960s. Now Armbruster-Sandoval extends our understanding of social justice and activism, providing one of the first examinations of Chicana/o and Latina/o student activism in the 1990s.
Students at University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, Santa Barbara; and Stanford University went on hunger strikes to demand the establishment and expansion of Chicana/o studies departments. They also had even broader aspirations—to obtain dignity and justice for all people. These students spoke eloquently, making their bodies and concerns visible. They challenged anti-immigrant politics. They scrutinized the rapid growth of the prison-industrial complex, racial and class polarization, and the university’s neoliberalization. Though they did not fully succeed in having all their demands met, they helped generate long-lasting social change on their respective campuses, making those learning institutions more just.
“The author bases his book on historical archival and oral interviews, making it original and organic. This is the first scholarship that investigates the Chicana/o studies social movements of the 1990s, and [it] is a major contribution for future scholarly development of this critical subject.”—Choice
“This book vividly captures the urgency of a time when Mexican American students and faculty—almost all the first generation in either role—were trying to maintain a presence at California universities in the face of growing hostility to people of color, the so-called culture wars.”—American Journal of Sociology
“Starving for Justice is helpful in understanding an underrepresented perspective in sociology and is an invitation for dialogue.”—Contemporary Sociology
“A lucid, original, and fascinating analysis of Chicana/o and Latina/o activism in the ’90s. This is the book I have been waiting for—a book that builds on and extends beyond the Chicano movement(s) of the ’60s and early ’70s.”—Rodolfo D. Torres, Professor of Urban Planning and Chicano and Latino Studies, University of California, Irvine
“A well-researched and well-written book that should be adopted in courses across various disciplines that deal with issues of justice: from sociology and political science to law and women’s studies.”—Celestino Fernández, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of Arizona
“Armbruster-Sandoval makes substantive contributions to social movement studies by documenting the emergence and character of student hunger strikes on these three college campuses. He seeks to answer the question: What leads some people to engage in high-risk, nonviolent forms of protest?” –Edelina Burciaga, Mobilization
“A courageous book, offering an important addition to critical higher education studies and bringing up to date the scholarship on Chicana/o studies.”—Laura Pulido, co-editor of Black and Brown in Los Angeles: Beyond Conflict and Coalition