Latinx Communities in the U.S.

LSGS 89S

This seminar explores the overlapping layers of community among Latinx communities in the United States.  The course begins with an interrogation of the concept of an overarching community formed by diverse groups of multiple national origins and with differing experiences.  We will explore the historical origins and the sometimes-problematic nature of terms like “Hispanic,” “Latino/a,” and “Latinx.”  As the course progresses, students will be exposed to multiple case studies that illustrate the diversity of experiences of Latinx groups in multiple settings, ranging from large urban centers to rural communities.  This will allow students to come to an understanding of the relationship between national origin, historical circumstances, and physical space in the creation of community for Latinx groups.

                  While students will be provided with a sense of the longer history of Latinx groups in the United States, the course will largely focus on the history of these communities in the long twentieth century and their present conditions in the early twenty-first century.  Through historical and contemporary case studies, students will come to understand the forces that drive immigration, community establishment and growth, and the ways in which Latinx groups exercised their agency in shaping their environment and securing a place for their communities.  The course will explore how members of these communities interacted with one another, with other Latinx groups, and with groups outside their communities.  Moments of confluence and conflict will be used to illuminate underlying structural and cultural forces.  Finally, the course will question the transnational nature of Latinx communities, not only as groups formed by immigrants or their descendants, but as groups with active social, cultural, and economic ties that transcend national borders.

                  In addition to learning about these communities, students are expected to develop important critical thinking, writing, and research skills as a part of this seminar.  Students are expected to develop an understanding of how social, political, and economic forces shape Latinx communities and the reaction to the existence of these communities.  As the semester progresses, students will use these skills not only to critically engage the arguments in each case study, but also to develop their own research project on Latinx communities in the United States.

Assigned Reading:

  • G. Cristina Mora, Making Hispanics: How Activists, Bureaucrats & Media Constructed a New American, University of Chicago Press
  • Cristina Beltrán, The Trouble with Unity: Latino Politics and the Creation of Identity, Oxford University Press
  • Lilia Fernández, Brown in the Windy City: Mexicans and Puerto Ricans in Postwar Chicago, University of Chicago Press
  • Llana Barber, Latino City: Immigration and Urban Crisis in Lawrence, Massachusetts, 1945-2000, University of North Carolina Press
  • Sarah Lynn Lopez, The Remittance Landscape: Space of Migration in Rural Mexico and Urban USA, University of Chicago Press
  • Additional readings will be made available through Sakai in either PDF or stable link format

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Curriculum Codes: 

CCI, CZ, W