This introductory chapter presents the historical background underpinning this study. Beginning in the early 1900s and the later criminalization, racialization, and pathologization of pachucos and pachucas (or zoot suiters) in the 1940s, the chapter traces the history of the experiences of youths of color in California's emerging juvenile justice system in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It charts the evolving facets of juvenile justice in this period, such as the use of eugenics and the overall racial and gendered biases underlying the early studies on troubled youth. Yet, despite the power imbalances these youths of color faced, the chapter argues that they and their families also found ways to challenge the ideologies and practices of the state institutions. Alongside this background, the chapter also discusses the challenges and limitations to this study, and provides a rough outline of the book as a whole.
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