Presents the diverse histories of Spanish-speaking minorities in the U.S., including Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Cubans and the many others, and analyzes the processes drawing people from over 20 different Spanish-speaking countries to coalesce as a single, though diverse, ethnic group. Includes chapters on the role of Spanish-language mass media in the U.S., especially television; on political radicalism of groups like the Brown Berets or Young Lords, and the more conventional political activism bringing diverse Latino groups into positions of power (including senate seats, mayoralties and even a governorship); on how Latinos are playing their pivotal position between blacks and whites in the U.S., and the future of ethnic identities.
Geoffrey gives an overview of the book:
The people we call, and who sometimes call themselves, Hispanics or Latinos don't have a common biological descent. "Hispanics," the Census Bureau reminds us whenever it uses the term, "can be of any race." They can also be of any religion and any citizenship status, from undocumented to U.S. citizen by birth, and may have any of over twenty distinct national histories. These diverse people are a community only to the extent and only in the ways that they imagine themselves to be. And the only sort of community they can imagine themselves to be is that vague sort we call a "people" or a "nation."
The Hispanic nation will probably never capture the loyalties of all the people labeled as Hispanics by outsiders. But it doesn't need to. It has already taken hold in the imaginations of enough people in enough different communities that it is changing their self-perceptions and electoral and cultural behaviors.
After graduating from Harvard, I worked in Venezuela and other Latin American countries, finally getting a Ph.D. in sociology (Northwestern U.) and teaching and writing on Latin American themes. I began writing fiction later, including a book of short stories, Welcome to...