Introduction

Daniel D. Arreola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Hispanic Spaces, Latino Places explores the regional cultural geography of Americans of Hispanic/Latino ancestry as defined by the U.S. Census. In its broadest scope, the book is a scholarly assessment of ethnic-group diversity examined across geographic scales from nation to region to place. The organization and themes of Hispanic Spaces, Latino Places are innovative in three ways. First, Hispanic/Latino Americans represent the fourth-largest concentration of Spanish-heritage people in the world, after Mexicans, Colombians, and Spaniards. A popular yet erroneous conception holds that Hispanic/Latino Americans are a homogeneous group. The members of this large population-reported in 2003 to be some thirty-nine million, 13 percent of the U.S. population-tend to identify themselves by national ancestry, although the labels "Hispanic" and "Latino" remain current in government circles and in the media. In fact, Hispanic/Latino Americans are not one group, but many. They are not simply Hispanics or Latinos, as these panethnic names suggest, but Mexicans, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Sal-vadorans, Guatemalans, Cubans, Ecuadorians, Bolivians, Hispanos (Spanish Americans), and others. In this book, diversity will be fundamental to the exploration of Hispanic/Latino Americans. Further, some continue to imagine that Hispanic/Latino Americans are found only in the Southwest or in New York or Miami. While regional concentrations exist, Hispanic/Latino Americans are now spread across the nation. Hispanic Spaces, Latino Places breaks ground in its treatment of regional populations by evaluating the plurality of Hispanics/Latinos across America, their different geographies and social adjustments to diverse places from small and medium-sized towns to metropolitan areas. No other single book treats Hispanic/Latino Americans in this way. A second significant contribution of this volume is the diversity of social and cultural themes investigated from a geographic perspective. Much writing about Hispanic/Latino Americans tends to concentrate on issues of immigration, migration, and economic and political roles. Sociologists and anthropologists investigate the structural integration of this population with the larger population (Flores and Benmayor 1997; Moore and Pinderhughes 1993; Romero, Hondagneu-Sotelo, Ortiz 1997). Historians and others conduct research about Hispanic/Latino Americans across mul-tidisciplinary boundaries, to examine a plethora of societal themes (Suárez-Orozco and Páez 2002). Nevertheless, the questions explored and investigations performed by these social scientists and humanists rarely concern geographical aspects, regional diversity, or adaptations to place among the populations. Hispanic Spaces, Latino Places addresses themes of spatial distribution and cultural identity specific to each subgroup and relevant to the places Hispanic/Latino Americans have created. Issues of contested space, social networks, and landscape imprint reveal identity and explore how spaces have become places charged with meaning for specific Hispanic/Latino subgroups. These themes are examined across social contexts in which some Hispanics/Latinos are only just beginning to create a place identity as new immigrants and others in which Hispanics/Latinos have deeply etched landscapes, which communicate long attachment to places. Also innovative is this volume's application of time and population proportion to the discussion of Hispanic/Latino community types. Subgroup diversity is complicated by temporal variability, where some Hispanic/Latino Americans are new residents and others have been in this country for centuries. In some places, they dominate the total population, and in others they are a minority. Thus, understanding the geographical impact of Hispanic/Latino Americans requires sensitivity to time of settlement and the percentage of the ethnic population in a place. Hispanic Spaces, Latino Places introduces communities studied by type: continuous, discontinuous, and new (Haverluk 1998). A continuous community is one founded by Hispanics/Latinos and one where they always have been a majority. A discontinuous community is one where Hispanic/Latino Americans founded or dominated the community at one time, but ceded dominance to non-Hispanics/ Latinos at another time. Finally, a new community is one where Hispanics/Latinos are chiefly new immigrants, and where they have gained importance in a place in which they have not previously been present. Combined, these original perspectives on Hispanic/Latino Americans-regional diversity, cultural geographic identity, and community typewill ground and inform the discussion about this major ethnic population, one that is transforming America.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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    Arreola, D. D. (2004). Introduction. Unknown Journal, 1-12.