Martha Gonzalez Awarded Prestigious MacArthur Fellowship

Portrait of Martha Gonzalez, associate professor of Chicanx/Latinx Studies at Scripps College
Photo courtesy of John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Martha Gonzalez, associate professor of Chicanx/Latinx Studies at Scripps College and lead singer, songwriter and percussionist of the Grammy Award-winning band Quetzal, has been awarded a 2022 MacArthur Fellowship. The fellowship, also known as a “genius grant,” awards $800,000 to fuel the future achievements of extraordinarily talented and creative individuals.

“Like most MacArthur fellows, I want to acknowledge that I have never learned, worked and/or played music in a vacuum,” Gonzalez said. “My intellectual and physical labor, passion for music, and activism was nurtured in local and transnational communities. The work belongs to many. I am indebted to them as well as my mentors, teachers, colleagues, and maestr@s in the US, Veracruz and Chiapas, Mexico. My intellectual and creative labor will continue to be used to instigate critical consciousness towards the advancement of social justice.”

Gonzalez is a Chicana artivista (artist/activist), musician and feminist music theorist from Boyle Heights who has been a member of the Scripps College faculty since 2013. A recipient of Fulbright, Ford, and Woodrow Wilson Fellowships, Gonzalez’s academic interests have been fueled and complemented by her work with the East Los Angeles rock group Quetzal, which tells the social, cultural, political, and musical stories of people in struggle from a perspective rooted in feminism and social activism. In 2014, her tarima (stomp box) and zapateado shoes were acquired by the National Museum of American History in recognition of her accomplishments on and off the stage.

“Martha Gonzalez’s accomplishments exemplify the humanistic interdisciplinarity of Scripps and The Claremont Colleges’ Chicanx/Latinx Studies Program,” said Scripps College President Suzanne Keen. “We celebrate Professor Gonzalez for being a creative person who enables great opportunities to flow to others—students, audiences, and collaborators. The Scripps community is over the moon about this recognition of her generous spirit!”

Gonzalez is also the current director of the College’s Humanities Institute, a series of public lectures, conferences, exhibitions, performances, and films that promotes the Scripps tradition of interdisciplinary education. Through Gonzalez’s programming, this year’s Humanities Institute is exploring how various cultural practices are used around the world as tools of dialogue, healing, and self- and community empowerment.