U.S. Latino Identities: A Critical and Historical Analysis
Conference on Latin American History 41
In the last two decades, Latinos in the United States have been consistently showcased in the media. According to well-publicized statistics, they have recently become the largest of the "minority" groups. Accompanying these dramatic changes there has been only a limited number histories published, and just a few scholarly journals dedicated to their study. The meager scholarly investment in unpacking controversial debates about labels (i.e., Latinos, Latino/as, Latin@, Hispanics), shared histories and identity politics leaves many unexamined issues, and worse yet, many unasked questions. This is, perhaps, more of a problem in the modest number of critical histories behind current controversies.
Thus, with the purpose of promoting the study of U.S. Latino labels, identity and history this panel attempts to address the question of the historical development of political identity among some of the major Latin American diasporic communities in the United States. Though the Latino experience is as diverse as the number of communities, the papers in this panel show that for the majority, the first half of the 20th Century was paramount. The experiences and negotiations of the first waves of Latin(o) American immigrants, particularly those done in the context of labor, established the epistemological and practical bases for transitioning from outsiders to a more settled and more intra-connected yet dynamic diaspora. These papers also show that the ever stronger links with Latin America continue to recreate communities in multiple sub-diasporas mediated by the interplay of a racialized society, increasing mobility, and access to innovative communication technologies like all-Spanish TV and the Internet.
The panelists are historians with substantial experience teaching and researching on these areas. Some of the papers derives from major research projects, while others are the result of new research interest. The discussant is a recognized scholar in the area of Latino Studies, and the chair is a scholar of transnational history.