In the 1990s, Chicana/o, Latina/o university students were morally outraged. Racialized neo-liberalism, anti-immigrant politics, mass incarceration, along with budget cuts and soaring tuition increases, fueled their anger. Having exhausted all other measures for redressing their grievances, these students stopped eating, engaging in what I call "spectacular speech." In this talk, I will briefly explore hunger striking as a form of "high-risk activism," as well as the 1994 UC Santa Barbara hunger strike that lasted ten days. While effective, this action left many questions unanswered, including how students and other marginalized communities might resist today.
Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval is a professor in the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department at UC Santa Barbara (UCSB). He is the author of two books, Starving for Justice: Hunger Strikes, Spectacular Speech, and the Struggle for Dignity (2017) and Globalization and Cross-Border Labor Solidarity in the Americas (2005). Professor Armbruster-Sandoval has been involved in various social movements for more than twenty-five years. He is currently a board member with a local social and economic justice organization on the Central Coast.