Book Spotlight: Flying Under the Radar with the Royal Chicano Air Force

In the wake of the Mexican American Liberation Art Front and the United Farm Workers movement, poet and artist Jose Montoya and and his colleague Esteban Villa established an art collective in Sacramento, California. The Royal Chicano Air Force, founded in 1970, aimed to foster Chicano and Latino art in the community, provide educational opportunities, and promote political awareness and activism.

In her first book, Flying Under the Radar with the Royal Chicano Air Force: The Ongoing Politics of Space and Ethnic Identity, Ella Maria Diaz CEF ’15 brings to life the story of the RCAF through members’ biographies and accounts of the group’s installations and community activities, examining everything through the lens of art history and literary scholarship. By considering community art classes and programs an extension of their artistic production, the RCAF expanded the definition of a collective, having a significant impact on both Chicano/a civil rights activism and culture works.

Colin Gunckel, associate professor of Chicano/Latino film and media, calls the book “a well-researched, innovative, and potentially groundbreaking contribution to the scholarship on Chicano/a and Latino/a art.”

Dr. Diaz is an assistant professor in both the Department of English and the Department of Latina/o Studies at Cornell University. Flying Under the Radar began as her dissertation project and was awarded the College of William and Mary’s Distinguished Dissertation Award in 2010.


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