Introduction to Latino/a Studies
Pundits, critics and fortune tellers have announced that by the year 2050 U.S. Latinos will number close to 100 million, constituting the third largest Latin American “nation” within a nation, behind Brazil and Mexico. This interdisciplinary course will provide a general introduction to the field of Latino/a Studies and how it is reconfiguring the study of the United States and the Americas. We will consider literature, history, sociology, economics, politics, and culture as we contemplate the terms: Latino/a, latinidad, Global South, transnational, and multinational. We will cover contemporary theoretical and critical drifts in Latino/a Studies and explore how Latino/a Studies as a field of study overlaps in some ways with African and African American Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies. How might one think of the U.S. Latino population as a “nation” within a nation, as suggested above? Does it matter that we don’t precisely know what we mean or whom we mean to include or exclude when we invoke the label “Latinos” or the term Latinidad? In this course, we will examine the tasks at hand for the Latino/a Studies educator and the Latino/a and non-Latino/a identified student in the context of globalization, contemporary U.S. universities’ preferred brand of diversity discourses, critical multiculturalism, and “coercive mimeticism.” This last term, coined by Asian American Studies scholar, Rey Chow (2003) to identify the process whereby ethnic-racialized subjects are bullied into resembling what is “recognizably ethnic” in order to claim some modicum of social and cultural intelligibility in the U.S. today. What could this mean? Have you seen this process at work?