Twenty years ago today the Tejana pop star Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was murdered in Corpus Christi. Her death led to an outpouring of grief, especially in Latino/a communities. In 2009 Deborah Paredez wrote about the afterlife of Selena fandom in her book Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory. Paredez spoke recently to the Austin American-Statesman about researching people’s response to the tragedy. “What I found was that it became a way for people to mourn the tragedies in their own lives. It also became a way for people to celebrate the triumphs in their own lives. She represented both a sense of tragedy and promise. Remembering Selena really became a way of understanding who Latinos were as citizens, as cultural makers, as political constituencies, as markets.” Paredez also argues that Selena’s death changed the way U.S. companies market to Latino/as. After the special Selena-themed cover of People Magazine sold out, People en Español was launched. Paredez told NBC news, “Her death served as a cue to the larger culture that Latinos were becoming more visible, more important. Selena spurred the growth of the Hispanic market. Our culture became a hot commodity.” Below watch Deborah Paredez discuss her book in a 2009 interview.
Want to learn more? Read the introduction to Selenidad here. (If your library subscribes to the e-Duke Books Scholarly Collection you can read the whole book. Ask your librarian!)