Photo: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

The Intercollegiate Department of Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies (IDCLS) at the Claremont Colleges celebrates MARTHA GONZALEZ on her selection as a 2022 MacArthur Fellow—making her the first active Claremont Colleges faculty member to win this award, often referred to as the “Genius Grant.”

An associate professor of Chicanx-Latinx Studies, Gonzalez has been a member of IDCLS since her arrival to Scripps College in 2013. A beloved teacher and award-winning scholar, Gonzalez is also the lead singer of the Grammy Award-winning band Quetzal. She is a fitting recipient of this prestigious fellowship, given to “talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits.”

Gonzalez’ extensive body of intellectual and creative production is noteworthy for crossing both physical borders as well as disciplinary ones. Rooted to “music as a tool of dialogue,” Gonzalez’s work merges Chicana feminist theory, ethnomusicology, and musical performance, creating
transnational spaces of collaborative performance and collective songwriting and exploring, in her words, “ways in which creative expression can serve the dual roles of political commentary and community building.”

Combining art and activism though both musical performance and scholarly writing, the self-described “Chicana Artivista” is a model of public-facing humanities and the best within the interdisciplinary field. “Music, and the power it invokes, is at the heart of my practice as a
musician, scholar, and activist.”

The consummate collaborator whose work is rooted to community, Gonzalez is clear that while deeply appreciative of the MacArthur Foundation for this distinction, the decades of work it recognizes were not produced as a solo artist: “I have never learned, worked and or played music in a vacuum. My intellectual and physical labor, passion for music, and activism were nurtured in local and transnational communities. I am indebted to them as well as my family, mentors, colegas, teachers, and maestr@s in the U.S., Veracruz and Chiapas, Mexico. Finally, I want to thank my partner in life, music and social justice struggle, Quetzal Flores for all that he has done for me and our son Sandino. From music, organizing, dialogue to child rearing, I could not have accomplished as much as I have in my professional and music life without his guidance, love, and support.”

On behalf of the department, Gilda Ochoa (professor of Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies at Pomona College and chair of IDCLS) said: “We celebrate this achievement by our esteemed colega and artivista Martha Gonzalez. It’s an important recognition of her transformative work in the classroom and with communities.”

Colleagues in her department also offered their perspective on this momentous occasion:

“Martha Gonzalez is an artist-scholar-activist-teacher who so seamlessly melds together her ethos, practice, philosophy and pedagogy that she epitomizes the absolute best that we could ever hope for in our interdisciplinary, transnational, multilingual field of CLS.
While her artivismo is centered on a collective voice, community representation, and collaborative creations, we in the IDCLS know first hand how Martha Gonzalez is the pulsing heart of every one of her endeavors.” (Rita Cano Alcalá, professor in IDCLS, Scripps College)

“With her presence, she’s created a vibrant social, intellectual, and cultural environment here at Claremont Colleges, and her work has made a profound contribution to the field of Chicana/o Studies.” (Miguel Tinker Salas, professor in IDCLS, Pomona College).

“Martha is an amazing musician and a formidable scholar. You might think that makes her a success in “two worlds” but it’s the way she brings those two realms, those two ways of knowing together that’s her distinctive genius.” (Tomás Summers Sandoval, associate professor in IDCLS, Pomona College).

The Intercollegiate Department of Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies (IDCLS) at the Claremont Colleges is the second oldest program of its kind in the country. The department comprises faculty at Scripps College, Pitzer College, and
Pomona College, and serves the curricular and needs and interests of students at all five undergraduate Claremont Colleges.
For more information, contact Professor Gilda L. Ochoa, chair of IDCLS, at