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Maxine Baca Zinn: 1942—: Sociologist

Challenged Mainstream Sociology

Baca Zinn's early work was considered "oppositional scholarship" because she challenged mainstream views about ethnic minorities. For example, one of her early published articles challenged the stereotype that Chicana women were passive and submissive. Instead, she showed examples of how powerful the role of a woman could be within the Chicano family structure. However, when Baca Zinn began to study feminism and racism together, she recognized the need for a completely different explanation of social relations.

In the early 1980s Baca Zinn received an offer to join a budding research consortium, an offer that would change the shape of her academic career. Some women academics from Memphis State decided to build a research network on women of color, and they invited ten women researchers from across the country, including Baca Zinn, to a meeting on the subject. The goal of the group, Baca Zinn told CHB, was to "change feminist firmament." This group of researchers recognized the need to inform feminism with research based on women of color. It was the first time that Baca Zinn had found a group of women studying both race and gender. The group consisted of such notable academics as Patricia Hill Collins, Bonnie Thornton Dill, and Lynn Weber, who would become the "foremothers of multiracial feminism."

This experience changed the way Baca Zinn thought about race, gender, and class issues, and she began to look at the ways in which these elements intersected social relations. She and her colleagues began to challenge traditional feminist views in which the experiences of white women set the standard, and instead worked on developing a Latina feminism, which builds from the experiences of Latinas. "In women's studies, I think Latinas have been upsetting the apple cart," Baca Zinn told the Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, because their experiences have not fit into conventional feminist thought. In 1994 Baca Zinn co-edited a book with Bonnie Thornton Dill called Women of Color in U.S. Society, which challenged mainstream feminism with perspectives from women of color.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Carlos Watson Biography - Was a Student Journalist to Stefan Zweig (1881–1942) BiographyMaxine Baca Zinn: 1942—: Sociologist Biography - Educational Experiences, Determined To Set The Record Straight, Challenged Mainstream Sociology, An Inspirational Teacher