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Latino Spin


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Presents alternative and more empowering representations of Latinidad to help attain true political equity and intra-racial coalitions

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Introduction Part I. The Politics of Latino Spin 1 Here Comes the Latino Middle Class 2 Latinos: "The New Republicans (They Just Don't Know It)" 3 The Hispanic Consumer: That's "A Lot of Dollars, Cars, Diapers, and Food" Part II. Political Economy: Spaces and Institutions 4 The Times-Squaring of El Barrio: On Mega-Projects, Spin, and "Community Consent" 5 From Barrio to Mainstream: On the Politics of Latino/a Art Museums 6 The "Disciplining" of Ethnic Studies: Or, Why It Will Take Goya Foods and J.Lo to Endow Latino Studies Conclusion: On the Dangers of Wishful Thinking Notes Bibliography Index About the Author

About the Author

Arlene Davila is Professor of Anthropology and American Studies at NYU. Her books include Culture Works: Space, Value and Mobility Across the Neoliberal Americas (2012) and Latino Spin: Public Image and the Whitewashing of Race (2008), both available from NYU Press.


According to Davila (Barrio Dreams), the huge and heterogeneous Latino population has been treated to facile and contradictory representations in the public sphere as both "problem" (immigrant) and "opportunity" (voters, consumers). Her invaluable scholarly treatment unearths the competing interests and race-inflected ideological tendencies behind characterizations of Latino political identity in the mainstream media. Those scholars, pollsters, marketers and policymakers hitching Latinos to an image of the American middle class have larger motivations and interests to satisfy, the more partisan of which use Latinos to narrow the permissible definition of the "patriotic American" in the first place. Obscured in pervasive media portraits of the "equation-altering" Latino vote is the fact that only 18% of Latinos went to the polls in 2004 and their relative lack of representation in government points to their overwhelming disenfranchisement. The image of the "Latino middle class" masks as much as it reveals, not least the embattled state of the American middle class as a whole. Latinos are indeed "at the heart of the remaking of America," argues Davila shrewdly, "[b]ut not in the optimistic ways described by political pundits" (Dec.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

"Her invaluable scholarly treatment unearths the competing interests and race-inflected ideological tendencies behind characterizations of Latino political identity in the mainstream media." Publishers Weekly "The finest, fiercest, and most piercing of our public intellectuals ... Davila is a force of nature. In Latino Spin she elegantly unravels the media driven sleight-of-hand that simultaneously celebrates an uber-American (and almost entirely manufactured) Latino middle class while demonizing recent Latino immigrants and the poor folks who resemble them." Junot Diaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Drown "Davila depicts the frenzied efforts of post-industrial America to corral more than forty million diverse Latinos into a single homogenized market. Whether it's peddling consumer goods, monetizing art and culture, engineering barrio land development, or shaping a new political voting bloc, Latino Spin brilliantly dissects Hispanic-American reality in the twenty-first century." Juan Gonzalez, New York Daily News columnist and author of Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America "A wonderfully written book that cuts through the 'spin' often used to typecast the United States' largest minority group." Mark Sawyer, author of Racial Politics in Post Revolutionary Cuba

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