a n ote on t erminology
s I move between discussions of the World War II period, the
movement, and the post-9/11 era, I try to use terms
appropriate to each period. For example, when discussing the early
1940s, I generally refer to people of Mexican descent in the United
States as Mexican Americans, rather than as Chicanas or Chi-
canos, politically charged labels that gained currency with the Chi-
cano movement. I use “Hispanic,” “Latina,” and “Latino” as umbrella
terms when referring to people, including Mexicans, Chicanas, and
Chicanos, with roots (however distant) in the Spanish-speaking
world or Latin America. Likewise, as I discuss the pachuca as
historical actor (women who called themselves pachucas or who
took part in the Mexican American zoot subculture) and the dis-
cursive pachuca (the pachuca of public discourse), I often denote
the latter by referring to it as a “figure” or—taking my cue from
raúlsalinas—as la pachuca. Even though I maintain that agency
is always mediated and, thus, it is often difficult for scholars who
study the past to distinguish the historical actor from the icon or
representation, I make this thorny distinction for clarity.
Finally, while I use “pachuca” somewhat gingerly throughout
this book, I also use it very liberally. As I show in the following
chapters, “pachuca” is a multifaceted label, one that was more of-
ten than not pejorative. I believe that for this reason, the Mexican
American women I interviewed as part of this study were reluc-
tant to call themselves pachucas, even though some wore zoot
suits, “rats,” and dark lipstick, spoke pachuco slang, enjoyed lis-
tening and dancing to jazz, and associated with other zoot-clad
Mexican American youths during the early 1940s. I do not mean
any disrespect when I refer to these women as pachucas. Instead,
I wish to reclaim and complicate this label via their recollections
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