Beyond El Barrio

Beyond El Barrio: Everyday Life in Latina/o America

Gina M. Pérez
Frank A. Guridy
Adrian Burgos
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Beyond El Barrio
    Book Description:

    Freighted with meaning, el barrio is both place and metaphor for Latino populations in the United States. Though it has symbolized both marginalization and robust and empowered communities, the construct of el barrio has often reproduced static understandings of Latino life; they fail to account for recent demographic shifts in urban centers such as New York, Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles, and in areas outside of these historic communities.Beyond El Barrio features new scholarship that critically interrogates how Latinos are portrayed in media, public policy and popular culture, as well as the material conditions in which different Latina/o groups build meaningful communities both within and across national affiliations. Drawing from history, media studies, cultural studies, and anthropology, the contributors illustrate how despite the hypervisibility of Latinos and Latin American immigrants in recent political debates and popular culture, the daily lives of America's new majority minority remain largely invisible and mischaracterized.Taken together, these essays provide analyses that not only defy stubborn stereotypes, but also present novel narratives of Latina/o communities that do not fit within recognizable categories. In this way, this book helps us to move beyond el barrio: beyond stereotype and stigmatizing tropes, as well as nostalgic and uncritical portraits of complex and heterogeneous range of Latina/o lives.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-6856-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)

    InThe Souls of Black Folk, W. E. B. Du Bois notes that a persistent, yet unasked question between him and “the other world” is “How does it feel to be a problem?” A similar question might be posed to contemporary America’s Latina/o populations, who recently have emerged simultaneously as a possible solution to America’s race problem, as well as a pernicious symbol of the nation’s enduring dilemma of citizenship, race, legality, and social membership. Thus the question Latinas/os face today is a similar one posed by Du Bois more than one hundred years ago, about not only the feelings...

  5. PART I Citizenship, Belonging, and (the Limits of) Latina/o Inclusion

    • 1 Singing the “Star-Spanglish Banner”: The Politics and Pathologization of Bilingualism in U.S. Popular Media
      (pp. 27-43)

      In the spring of 2006, U.S. residents of all political persuasions were witness to the largest pro-immigrant cross-country protests in the nation’s history. Designed as a response to what many viewed as draconian measures to halt undocumented immigration,² the peaceful marches were notable for their strategic use of the transnational popular media, particularly radio, as a key part of organizational efforts. Significantly, mainstream (English-language) U.S. media focused almost exclusively on the critical role that Spanish-language media played in the protests, as well as widespread public reaction to the song “Nuestro Himno” (“Our Anthem”). During the apex of the pro-immigrant demonstrations...

    • 2 “¡Puuurrrooo MÉXICO!”: Listening to Transnationalism on U.S. Spanish-Language Radio
      (pp. 44-62)

      The Spanish-language radio station Estéreo Sol broadcasts from northern California, nearly seven hundred miles north of the geographical U.S.-Mexico border. In the face of San Francisco’s renowned foggy forecasts, Estéreo Sol broadcasts with a sunny, transnationalist disposition. For the twenty-two percent of San Francisco Bay Area residents that identify as Hispanic or Latino (U.S. Census Bureau, 2005), tuning into Estéreo Sol entails listening, and often singing along, to acoustic traces of “Mexico.”² The station’s parent company, Univisión, is the largest Spanish-language media company in the United States. Thirteen of Univisión’s seventeen radio markets feature at least one radio station akin...

    • 3 Hayandose: Zapotec Migrant Expressions of Membership and Belonging
      (pp. 63-80)

      “Yiusll kumadr!” (Hellocomadre!).¹ The words rang out as my friend Marta and I walked up the driveway between the two buildings. Like Marta, the speaker was a Zapotec woman from Yalálag, Oaxaca. She approached us and accompanied us to several chairs nearby. Other people were already there and a rosary was being recited by a group composed primarily of women. A group of men sat in chairs across from us, talking among themselves. As we sat down I felt awkward. The arrangement of the space unsettled me. Between two residential buildings somewhere in the Koreatown district of Los Angeles,...

    • 4 Becoming Suspect in Usual Places: Latinos, Baseball, and Belonging in El Barrio del Bronx
      (pp. 81-100)

      On 25 August 2001, the Rolando Paulino All Stars from the Bronx, New York, faced off against the Apopka, Florida, team during the semifinal round of the Little League World Series (LLWS). Broadcast internationally on ESPN, the Paulino All Stars were the main attraction for countless viewers. The Bronx team was propelled by Dominican-born pitcher Danny Almonte, who frustrated his opponents and infuriated their parents with his blazing fastball. The team captured national and international attention. Comprising boys from working-class and impoverished Dominican and Puerto Rican backgrounds, including a number of players who could not speak English, the Bronx team...

  6. PART II Gender, Sexuality, and the Politics of Memory and Representation

    • 5 Gay Latino Histories/Dying to Be Remembered: AIDS Obituaries, Public Memory, and the Queer Latino Archive
      (pp. 103-128)

      In early 1991, in the months prior to beginning to stop repressing my gay sexuality, I remember browsing surreptitiously the free gay weekly magazines my then roommate René brought into our shared apartment in West Los Angeles. Because he himself had only recently acknowledged his gay sexuality to me, these glossy English-language “rags” did not lie around freely and openly all over our place. I cannot recall if he actually left the door to his room open on occasion before heading out to UCLA for classes, allowing me to view the magazines lying carelessly on the floor just inside, or...

    • 6 All About My (Absent) Mother: Young Latina Aspirations in Real Women Have Curves and Ugly Betty
      (pp. 129-148)

      In the critically acclaimed coming-of-age filmReal Women Have Curves(2002), Ana Garcia, a first-generation Chicana teenager from East Los Angeles, aspires to attend Columbia University but first must reckon with her mother’s traditional views about gender roles within the Mexican American family. Set in the summer months bridging high school graduation and the fall semester during which Ana was hoping to begin college, the film chronicles the mother-daughter conflicts that arise when Ana must fulfill her familial responsibility by working along with her mother at her sister’s garment factory. When Ana eventually leaves for college at summer’s end, her...

    • 7 Making “The International City” Home: Latinos in Twentieth-Century Lorain, Ohio
      (pp. 149-167)

      Lorain, Ohio, along Lake Erie thirty miles west of Cleveland, is at present the home of 14,000 Latinos, about twenty percent of the population in a city of 68,000. Puerto Ricans are the largest majority, with over 10,000 citizens, while almost 2,500 residents are identified as Mexicans. African Americans currently represent an additional fifteen percent of the city population. Latinos first settled in “The International City” (as Lorain city boosters dubbed it) in significant numbers in the 1920s when ethnic Mexicans migrated from Texas and other borderlands regions. Drawn by jobs in the steel industry, 1,300 men, according to one...

    • 8 Hispanic Values, Military Values: Gender, Culture, and the Militarization of Latina/o Youth
      (pp. 168-186)

      As the media consistently reminds us, we find ourselves at a critical and potentially dangerous time. A defining feature of this dangerous location, I would argue, is what conservative historian Andrew Bacevich (2005, 2) refers to as the new American militarism, which he defines as “a romanticized view of soldiers, a tendency to see military power as the truest measure of national greatness, and outsized expectations regarding the efficacy of force. To a degree without precedence in U.S. history, Americans have come to define the nation’s strength and well-being in terms of military preparedness, military action, and the fostering of...

  7. PART III Latina/o Activisms and Histories

    • 9 Going Public? Tampa Youth, Racial Schooling, and Public History in the Cuentos de mi Familia Project
      (pp. 189-210)

      The biggest challenge in the Cuentos de mi Familia project was getting middle school students to commit to writing a biography of one of their family members. One student, Rocío Lopez Padilla, understood that writing and sharing a family biography could change her relationship to her mother. Other middle school students in the Cuentos project were more wary of the risks involved in a public history project that centered their families’ lives. They may have had concerns about the sudden visibility of their families’ lives. The students who did risk public visibility in the Cuentos project demonstrated the challenge Latino...

    • 10 The Mission in Nicaragua: San Francisco Poets Go to War
      (pp. 211-231)

      In the late 1970s, a community of poet-activists rechristened their usual gathering spot, the plaza above a subway station in the heart of the barrio, as “Plaza Sandino.” Otherwise known as the BART station at Twenty-fourth and Mission streets in San Francisco’s Mission District, their literary seizure of the land, in the name of Nicaraguan peasant hero Augusto Sandino (1893–1934), signaled the ways this public space in San Francisco had become a meaningful place to express solidarity with the leftist struggles in Nicaragua and elsewhere. The poet Roberto Vargas described the mood of the barrio as follows: “The Mission...

    • 11 From the Near West Side to 18th Street: Un/Making Latino/a Barrios in Postwar Chicago
      (pp. 233-252)

      In late 1971, a group of Mexican Americans gathered in Chicago’s Pilsen/18th Street neighborhood to discuss the naming of a new Mexican community center opening in the area’s east end.¹ The center would occupy the building of an old Catholic grammar school and adjoining church and rectory, which lay vacant for several years. St. Joseph’s, or St. Joe’s as it was known in the neighborhood, had long served a Slovakian immigrant population, but those residents and their second- and third-generation descendants had abandoned the neighborhood and the parish years before. The growing Mexican community in the area had obtained permission...

    • 12 Transglocal Barrio Politics: Dominican American Organizing in New York City
      (pp. 253-272)

      Over the past two decades, Dominican American activists working in the northern Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights have initiated projects that have reshaped that neighborhood and the local political landscape. In this process, they have established and utilized numerous networks that include and extend beyond local and transnational Dominican circles; these networks include African Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and progressive whites. While they use these networks, they have also helped to transform them. This chapter will focus on the ways and reasons Dominican American activists work through these multiple networks, and on the implications this work has for the way...

  8. About the Contributors
    (pp. 273-276)
  9. Index
    (pp. 277-289)