Mexican Americans and the Question of Race

Mexican Americans and the Question of Race

University of Texas Press
March 2014
184 pages
3 charts, 1 maps, 1 tables
6 x 9
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-292-75401-0

Julie A. Dowling, Associate Professor of Latina/Latino Studies
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

This groundbreaking and timely study explores how Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants develop their racial ideologies and identifications and how they choose to present them to others.

With Mexican Americans constituting a large and growing segment of U.S. society, their assimilation trajectory has become a constant source of debate. Some believe Mexican Americans are following the path of European immigrants toward full assimilation into whiteness, while others argue that they remain racialized as nonwhite. Drawing on extensive interviews with Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants in Texas, Dowling’s research challenges common assumptions about what informs racial labeling for this population. Her interviews demonstrate that for Mexican Americans, racial ideology is key to how they assert their identities as either in or outside the bounds of whiteness. Emphasizing the link between racial ideology and racial identification, Dowling offers an insightful narrative that highlights the complex and highly contingent nature of racial identity.


  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1. The Question of Race
  • Chapter 2. “I’m white ‘cause I’m an American, right?”: The Meanings of Whiteness for Mexican Americans
  • Chapter 3. “We were never white”: Mexican Americans Identifying Outside the Bounds of Whiteness
  • Chapter 4. “In Mexico I was . . .”: Translating Racial Identities Across the Border
  • Chapter 5. “That’s what we call ourselves here”: Mexican Americans and Mexican Immigrants Negotiating Racial Labeling in Daily Life
  • Chapter 6. Re-envisioning Our Understanding of Latino Racial Identity
  • Appendix: Notes on Methodology
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index

Read chapter 1 here.

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