Sponsored by Friend of the Festival
Lydia R. Otero received a Ph.D. in History in 2003 and is an Emeritus Associate Professor in the Department of Mexican American Studies at the University of Arizona. In 2011, their book "La Calle: Spatial Conflicts and Urban Renewal in a Southwestern City" (2010) won a Southwest Book Award from the Border Regional Library Association. It focuses on a 1966 urban renewal project, which targeted the most densely populated 80 acres in Arizona. Although Mexican Americans dominated the renewal area demographically, most of the city’s Asian and African Americans also lived there. In this work, Otero focuses on individual and collective memory, and the power of historical narratives to ensure—or resist—social, cultural, and economic dominance.
Building on these themes, Otero released "In the Shadows of the Freeway: Growing Up Brown & Queer" in 2019 which merges personal memoir and the historical archive. The construction of the I-10 freeway in the 1950s destroyed residences and became a barrier that served to further disrupt, destroy and segregate Tucson’s barrios. Otero interrogates the environmental racism they witnessed and how it affected residents’ quality of life. For their family and neighbors, its effects were oftentimes lethal, resulting in layers of unresolved intergenerational trauma.
Otero released their second memoir, "L.A. Interchanges: A Brown & Queer Memoir" on July 31, 2023. Through photographs, and archival documents this book is a narrative of personal becoming amid the political and cultural currents of 1980s Los Angeles.
Communities: Arizona Author, Tucsonan, LGBTQ+, Gender Nonconforming, Hispanic or Latinx