Latino Landscapes: Transnational Urbanism in Dallas and the Next Urban History

Saturday, January 7, 2012: 3:30 PM
Rogers Park Room (Westin Chicago River North)
Andrew K. Sandoval-Strausz, University of New Mexico
The existing historiography of postwar urban America is superb but needs to be updated using a transnational approach. Thanks to two generations of scholarship, from the foundational works of Ken Jackson and Arnold Hirsch in the 1980s to the outstanding monographs of the past fifteen years by Thomas Sugrue, Becky Nicolaides, Robert Self, Alison Isenberg, Eric Avila, Kevin Kruse, Matthew Lassiter, and others, we enjoy a deep understanding of the decline of cities and the rise of suburbia. But this historiography developed in the era of the urban crisis, and today's urban landscape looks very different: urban populations are growing again, and the ethnoracial mosaic is more complex than ever before. We need a newer narrative that connects the existing postwar literature to the emergent urban present. The most important way to do this is to study urban history transnationally. If we want to understand how U.S. urban populations have stabilized since then, we need to look at immigration. While the influx of the foreign-born to American cities has come from all parts of the globe, the largest component has come from Latin America. It would be a gross oversimplification to say that Latinos saved the nation’s cities, but it is difficult to imagine how urban America could have sustained itself without this influx of new city-dwellers. In order to illustrate how this worked in a specific context, I will describe changes in the urban landscape of Oak Cliff, a Dallas neighborhood that has gone from 95% white Anglo to 80% Latino. I argue that Oak Cliff’s revival has depended upon Latin American immigrants transferring their bodies, businesses, and distinctive uses of public space; and that across America, a new form of urbanism has been imported from a culture hearth in Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America.
<< Previous Presentation | Next Presentation