Afro-Latino/a Identities: Challenges, History, and Perspectives

Afro-Latino/a Identities: Challenges, History, and Perspectives

Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal
Volume 9, Issue 1 (2012-04-20)
Article 5

Sobeira Latorre, Assistant Professor of Spanish
Southern Connecticut State University

Miriam Jiménez Román and Juan Flores, editors, The Afro-Latin@ Reader: History and Culture in the United States. (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), 584 pp.

The Afro-Latin@ Reader: History and Culture in the United States explores the contradictions, complexities, and ambiguities surrounding the term “Afro-Latin@.” As editors Juan Flores and Miriam Jiménez Román argue: “The term befuddles us because we are accustomed to thinking of ‘Afro’ and ‘Latin@’ as distinct from each other and mutually exclusive: one is either Black or Latin@” (1). This distinction, as the editors rightly underscore, denies the experience of those who identify themselves or whose experiences mark them as both Black and Latino/a, and who do not fit comfortably into either category. The Afro-Latin@ Reader emerges as a noteworthy and valuable effort to validate that individual experience and to voice, document and historicize the collective experience of Black Latino/as in the US.

The editors of this groundbreaking collection argue that despite the historical relevance and rich cultural legacy of Afro-Latino/as, described as “people of African descent in Mexico, Central and South America, and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean and by extension those of African descent in the United States whose origins are in Latin America and the Caribbean” (1), racial paradigms in the US remain rigid and narrow in their definition and the contributions and diverse experiences of this growing population in the United States continue to be understudied. Adopting a multidisciplinary and transnational approach to the study of Afro-descendants of Caribbean and Latin American background in the United States, The Afro-Latin@ Reader makes an invaluable contribution to the fields of Latino/a, Caribbean, African American and African diaspora Studies.

The exploration of the African heritage in the Americas is not a new scholarly topic. Different aspects of the African presence in Latin America and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, particularly around music, religion, and other socio-cultural manifestations, have been documented, especially among scholars in disciplines such as history, anthropology, and Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Studies on individual Latin American and Caribbean countries have also yielded significant insights into the particularities of racial discourse within distinct national contexts. More recently, this exploration is taking place within the context of the United States and has extended to fields like Latino/a, Black/African American, and Ethnic Studies…

Read the entire review here.

Tags: , , , , ,