Introduction. Papelitos Guardados:
Theorizing Latinidades Through Testimonio
papel. nm. 1. paper; 2. piece or sheet of paper; 3. document(s),
identification paper(s); 4. paper money; 5. receipt; 6. bag; 7. part, role.
-ito. suf. for n or adj. 1. diminutive; 2.
emotive; 3. superlative.
guardado. adj. 1. guarded, hidden away; 2. watched over, taken care
of, kept safe or secret, protected, including by a deity or saint;
3. maintained, preserved; 4. retained, conserved, stored.
Harper Collins Spanish-English Dictionary
Our vision for this book has been to illustrate how Latina feminists
come together to engage our di√erences, face-to-face, and work to find com-
mon ground. Our Latina Feminist Group began to meet in 1993 to discuss
our concerns as Latina feminists in higher education and to consider possibili-
ties for doing collaborative work. We came from the Southwest, East, and
Midwest, Latinas of multiple national and ethnic origins. As we introduced
ourselves to each other, described the work we do and why we are compelled
to do it, we spontaneously began to weave testimonios, stories of our lives, to
reveal our own complex identities as Latinas. This book of papelitos grew out
of these stories, told over the course of seven years.
Papelitos guardados has hybrid meanings for us: protected documents,
guarded roles, stored papers, conserved roles, safe papers, secret roles, hidden
papers, safe roles, preserved documents, protected roles. The phrase was of-
fered by María Luisa Lomas, the mother of Clara Lomas. During one of our
sessions, as we read our writings to each other, she revealed that she, too, had
her papelitos guardados, writings tucked away, hidden from inquiring eyes. As
she shared how she sought expression in writing, we realized that she had
captured the essence of our project. Papelitos guardados evokes the process by
which we contemplate thoughts and feelings, often in isolation and through
di≈cult times. We keep them in our memory, write them down, and store
them in safe places waiting for the appropriate moment when we can return to
them for review and analysis, or speak out and share them with others. Shar-
ing can begin a process of empowerment. Stepping out of the roles expected
of Latina women in the academy and in our communities, we bring to life our
papeles and render our testimonios through autobiographical narratives, short
stories, poems, and dialogues.