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Latinas/os on the East Coast

A Critical Reader

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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

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Silvia Cristina Bettez

Women’s Studies is a broad interdisciplinary field, but two central aims of all women’s studies scholars include (a) exploring women’s experiences and perspectives, and (b) examining and critiquing sociocultural conceptions of gender roles. The editors of this book chose three valuable readings that address these aims, delving specifically into Cuban and Dominican women’s work and educational experiences in the New York City area. The participants’ stories in these qualitative studies reveal Latinas’ challenges and successes in negotiating education, work, and family obligations in the United States. As a result of these readings, we begin to understand the crucial roles that immigrant Latinas have played in supporting themselves, their families, and other Latinas in the transition to U.S. life. In addition, all three studies provide insight into Latinas’ changing, complex perceptions of women’s gender roles.

In “Women Leave Home for the Factory: Gender, Work, and Family” Yolanda Prieto shares findings from her two-phased labor study of Cuban women residing in Union City, New Jersey. She initially interviewed 107 Cuban immigrant women in the 1970s and 1980s about their participation in the labor force. The research is historically contextualized through a description of traditional Cuban gender roles, which dictated that married women ideally not work outside the home. Prieto’s findings from the 1970s and 1980s reveal that Cuban immigrant women primarily worked outside the home to assist their families in obtaining middle-class status. This outside labor did not, however, alter the cultural expectation...

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