Maria Cotera

Maria Cotera

Maria Eugenia Cotera is daughter of Chicano activist Martha P. Cotera and Juan Cotera. Maria is Mexican-American and has family originally from Chihuahua, Mexico. Maria who was born on July 17 in Texas spent most of early childhood there with her sibling.




Early life

Maria's mother Martha was an influential activist among many other things, and someone who greatly influenced Maria's life for many reasons. Maria was very interested in the U.S third World Feminist Theory, Latino studies, ethnic mondernisms in the Unites States, literature by women of color, and history of Anthropology & Folklore.


Maria attended public schools in Texas where she spent most of her childhood with her parents. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Texas-Austin in with a Bachelors in Liberal Arts in 1986, and continued on at the University to received her Master's degree in English by 1994. Maria Cotera went on to earn her Ph.D in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University in 2001. Maria traveled to Michigan and the University of Michigan for the first time in 2001 shortly after receiving her Ph.D. Her postdoctorate, which she received after completing her dissertation. This award meant that soon Maria would be able to teach, was very important to her. Cotera asserts that the University of Michigan's reputation as a valued interdisciplinary is one of the reasons that led her to come to Michigan to complete her postdoctorate research. Cotera was intrigued by the University's American Culture Program and explains how this related to her work. She describes her work as a mixture of historical and literary analysis, which is why she looked for a school that valued that kind of work.


Cotera began her professional career at the Chicana Research and Learning Center, located in Austin, Texas. Her work was primarily writing for the CRLC about issues and researching past works by women of color. In 1989, she played a role in helping produce the documentary "Crystal City: A Twenty Year Reflection." The documentary's main focus was on the impact of the young women involved with the 1969 Chicano student walkouts of Crystal City, Texas. In 1992, continuing her research work with Dr. Jose Limon (University of Texas), Cotera recovered the lost manuscript of Jovita Gonzalez, a female, Texas folklorist, who contested that the foundation of Texas was marked by Spanish exploration and settlement, not the Texas Revolution. Coteras published works include the critical epilogue to Jovita Gonzales manuscript, Caballero, essays on more recently discovered Jovita Gonzalez works, also essays surrounding ethnographer Ella Deloria. Her last completed novel, Native Speakers, illuminates the ethnographic fiction of Ella Deloria, Jovita Gonzalez, and Zora Neal Hurston. Currently, Coteras individual research centers on the recoverz of cultural productions and theoretical writings of Chicana Feminists from 1965-1985.

Published Works

  • Caballero: An Historical Novel, by Jovita González and Margaret Eimer, Editor (with Dr. José Limón) and Critical Epilogue (Texas A&M Press, 1994)
  • Jovita González Mireles: A Sense of History and Homeland, in Latina Legacies: Identity, Biography, and Community, Editors Vicki Ruíz and Virginia Sanchez-Korrol (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005) 158-174.
  • Life Along the Border: A Landmark Tejana Thesis by Jovita González, Editor & Introduction (Corpus Christi: Texas A&M Press, 2006)
  • Native Speakers: Ella Deloria, Zora Neale Hurston, Jovita Gonzalez and the Poetics of Culture, (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2008)
  • The book describes ethnographic fiction of three women: Ella Deloria, Zora Neale Hurston, and Jovita Gonzalez
  • (Give introduction, plot summary of entire book, Maria Cotera’s thoughts on book and how this book has contributed to her current research.)
  • "The Story of Her People: Ella Cara Deloria's Decolonizing Methodology" in Out on Their Own Frontier: Women Historians and the Revisioning of the American West, Ed. Shirley Leckie and Nancy Parezo (University of Nebraska, 2008)
  • Crystal City: A Twenty Year Reflection
  • Young women and their role in the 1969 Chicano student walkouts in Carson City, Texas.
  • (Describe in length the entire documentary.)


Professor Cotera has undergone and coordinated many projects while studying and researching throughout her career as a student and now as a professional in the Latina Studies, American Culture, and Women Studies fields. Cotera’s first major project came during her graduate student years while assisting a researcher/literary scholar that was looking for information on Jovita Gonzales. While reviewing letters from Gonzales to Jake Frank Dobie, Cotera became enchanted by the relationship between the young, Latina, Mexican folklorist and the elder, White, American folklorist. Cotera was deeply interested in how the two differing scholars maintained such a relationship despite such conflicting ideologies of how the history of the Southwest was conducted. Cotera reports that this, along with the actual findings of Gonzales’ letters that she had written a novel of Latino based folklore, was the spark for her career and future in Latina Studies.


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