Loca Motion

The Travels of Chicana and Latina Popular Culture

310 pages

22 illustrations

May, 2005

ISBN: 9780814736630



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Michelle Habell-Pallán is an Associate Professor in the Women Studies Department at the University of Washington, Seattle. She is the co-editor with Mary Romero of Latino/a Popular Culture (NYU Press, 2002).

All books by Michelle Habell-Pallan

2006 Honorable Mention for MLA Prize in US Latina and Latino and Chicana and Chicano Literary and Cultural Studies

In the summer of 1995, El Vez, the “Mexican Elvis,“along with his backup singers and band, The Lovely Elvettes and the Memphis Mariachis, served as master of ceremony for a ground-breaking show, “Diva L.A.: A Salute to L.A.’s Latinas in the Tanda Style.” The performances were remarkable not only for the talent displayed, but for their blend of linguistic, musical, and cultural traditions.

In Loca Motion, Michelle Habell-Pallán argues that performances like Diva L.A. play a vital role in shaping and understanding contemporary transnational social dynamics. Chicano/a and Latino/a popular culture, including spoken word, performance art, comedy, theater, and punk music aesthetics, is central to developing cultural forms and identities that reach across and beyond the Americas, from Mexico City to Vancouver to Berlin. Drawing on the lives and work of a diverse group of artists,Habell-Pallán explores new perspectives that defy both traditional forms of Latino cultural nationalism and the expectations of U.S. culture. The result is a sophisticated rethinking of identity politics and an invaluable lens from which to view the complex dynamics of race, class, gender, and sexuality.


  • Loca Motion is a work of intelligent exuberance. Michelle Habell-Pallán has the eyes, ears, and heart to read popular performance, culture, and music as the new archives of Chicana and Latina transnational and translocal histories.”

    —Lisa Lowe, UC San Diego

  • “Forget about Ricky Martin and Shakira, here come El Vez and Marga Gomez. Habell-Pallán has produced a highly original study of Chicano/Latino popular culture and of its local, national and international dimensions by taking us into the world of alternative and experimental Chicano/Latino art.”

    —Arlene Davila, author of Barrio Dreams

  • “Offers insight into the dynamics of race, class, gender and sexuality.”

    Hispanic LInk Weekly Report