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Latinas/os on the East Coast

A Critical Reader

Series:

Edited By Yolanda Medina and Ángeles Donoso Macaya

Latinas/os on the East Coast: A Critical Reader provides a comprehensive overview of established and contemporary research and essays written about communities that represent the Latina/o diaspora on the East Coast of the United States. Collectively, it contributes to the historical, cultural, political, and economic dynamics that affect the Latinas/os’ lived experience of the country. Analyzed through an interdisciplinary lens, this reader offers a critical examination of the policies and the practices that affect the following current and emerging themes and topics: History; Ethnicity and culture; Immigration, transnationalism, and civil rights; Education; Health; Women’s studies; Film and media studies; Queer studies; Literature; Visual and performing arts.
This book is an indispensable resource for scholars, researchers, educators, undergraduate and graduate students, as well as any individual, group, or organization interested in issues that affect Latinas/os in the United States in current times.
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Introduction

Extract



David Carey, Jr.

The diversity of perspectives and experiences in this section eschews labels and generalizations. Instead of attempting to define ethnicity, race, or culture, the essays in this section demonstrate how complex, ambiguous, and malleable such social constructions are. Dynamic and complex, cultural norms and ethnic identities are expressed, negotiated, articulated, and omitted according to the contexts in which individuals find themselves. In Boston, Portland, Tampa, and other places, people from Latin America unite as Latinas/os or Hispanics when it serves their interests (such as participating in a larger social organization or movement to defend their rights), but in their quotidian lives, they often define themselves by their nationality and socialize according to that shared provenance. Some immigrants conflate nationality and race. “My race is Brazilian,” noted many Brazilians in Boston. More than a sense of shared culture, discriminatory acts and institutional racism tend to be the catalysts that unite disparate peoples from Latin America. Absent such affronts, nationalities often divide Latin American immigrants and their descendants.

Class, another crucial aspect of social relations, also shapes the shifting identities of ethnicity and race. Intending to integrate into U.S. elite society, wealthy Brazilians in Miami embrace acculturation and refrain from identifying as (or socializing with) other people of Latin American descent.

Since Latin American social constructions of race tend to be more sophisticated than the rigid categories generally applied in the United States, Latin American immigrants are compelled to reimagine their identities...

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