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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

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Sydney Hutchinson

Arts are a central part of human life, playing important roles in identity building, politics, and economics. In few places is this more obvious than in New York City, where in 2006 the economic impact of the arts was measured at $21.2 billion, generating an estimated 160,300 jobs.1 While we can easily guess that Latinos, who make up over one-quarter of the city’s population, play a role in the city’s artistic life in at least as great a proportion as their numbers would indicate, their significant impact (both creatively and economically) in this realm is infrequently considered. In response to this situation, the chapters in this section put Latino contributions to some of the city’s best-known urban arts front and center, covering a range of forms from music and dance to painting.

Frank M. Figueroa begins the section with a look at the physical legacy of Latino music in New York City. His focus is on the places that make up a musical landscape, from bars and dance halls to music stores and theaters. Some of those he describes are still standing; others are not. Many of them impact the stories told in the other chapters. This chapter spans the period from the 1920s to the 1970s and is a clear reflection of that era, during which New York City’s Latino community was dominated by Puerto Ricans and, to a lesser extent, Cubans. Figueroa’s elaborations could easily serve as the basis...

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