Valdivia, A. and Garcia, M. (2012) "Introduction." Mapping Latina/o Studies: An Interdisciplinary Reader. New York: Peter Lang Press, 2012.

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The authors introduce the field of latino/a studies as a key field for understanding a diverse, multiethnic, and ever-changing group of people living in the U.S. By studying them it is possible to understand the transformations of American's traditional identity. Several scholars question the existence of the umbrella term Latino/a as a pan-ethnic identifier (Hernandez, 2012, Alzaldua, 2012; Torres-Saillant, 2002; Oboler, 2995; Padilla, 1985).

Valdivia and Garcia present the kind of moral panics that have emerged among certain American scholars have built around the latino/a population. They cite the essay of Hungtinton (2004), ["The Hispanic Challenge] that argues that the most serious challenge for American identity is the presence of latino/a, espercially Mexicans, and their high fertility race, and the changing ratio of white Americans to ethnic Mexicans in the urban Southwest.

Some Chicano/a scholars as David Gutierrez have described Mexican resistance to assimilation and have studied their national orientation of people from the Southwest. He points out that the presence of ethnic Mexicans is destabilizing the notions of community, nationality, and the "nation" itself. There is a concern and anxiety in relation to how Mexican emigrants and their children do not appear to identify primarily with the United States.

The effects of Latino/a cultural and community formation are of increasing interest for the U.S society. The major areas of concern are public health, education, immigration, and poverty. As regard to education, data suggest that although Latina/os are becoming the largest minority group in several school districts and in many of them are the majority, they have the highest dropout rates, and continue to be place in the low performing side of the achievement gap.

Census data from 2010 reveals that Latina/os poverty rates have increased from 23.2% in 2008 to 25.3% in 2009 (12 million). As to Suarez-Orozco and Paex (2002) point out, latino/as are the poorest of the poor in the US even though they have the highest rates of employment.