Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Department of History & Department of Latino and Caribbean Studies

SEMINAR: Urban Latino Studies: Latinos in US Cities

Draft Version; v 6.1

Aldo A. Lauria Santiago
Contact info


This seminar will examine the presence of Latinos in US cities since the mid-nineteenth century. How have Latinos, defined as an immigrant or culturally alien racialized ethnic demographic been part of urban spaces in the US over the last 150 years? How have Latinos, in their diverse origins and conditions, participated in processes that define and transform the urban space?  We will look at residential patterns, voting, work, industry, ethnic conflict and racism, urban decline, policing, urban reform, public housing, gentrification, cultural production, and others—all examined in the context of urban spaces and dynamics. We will also look at discussions of Latino urbanism and Latino urban cultures.
The course will provide in-depth views into cities drawing on a mix of historical and social science materials. We will spend about ten weeks studying the experience of Latinos in these  cities, each one providing a varying set of themes based on different regional, economic, political, racial and social contexts.

My approach to Latino studies requires the careful study of local urban contexts and constant questioning of the categories we use to research, understand, and explain the past. The course will review the strengths and weaknesses of race/ethnic studies, as well as provide a critique of mainstream US history which leave Latinos pretty much out of the national historical narrative.
Students will produce their own modest research project that focus on New Jersey urban spaces using assigned sources to answer defined questions. Student research projects will involve census data, newspapers, government reports and other sources. I will provide training sessions in research methods and will leave the last four weeks of the semester for individual advising and the presentation of student work.

Along the way we will read public and private documents, use maps and demographic statistics, read scholarly literature and produce our own research projects.  As part of this work I will provide various training sessions in research methods and will leave the last four weeks of the semester for individual sessions and the presentation of student research work.

Additionally, by the end of the semester students will be able to:

Course Readings
All Readings will be provided through Sakai.

Course Requirements and Assessment
Participation, attendance = 20%
Three short discussion papers based on class readings (2-3 pages) = 45%
Research Paper (10-12 pages) = 35%

Class Participation: Class participation consists of attendance, thoughtful contributions to in-class and/or on-line discussions, and presentations. Throughout the semester, discussion initiators will be responsible for synthesizing readings, posing questions, and facilitating class engagement with materials.

This is a once-a-week seminar.  No absence will be excused unless you have a medical note or a family related crisis.

I will give you short assignments more or less every other week. They might be focused on the readings, on methodological issues or on finding and handling specific kinds of sources.

Research Paper: The informal written responses will build toward a research paper on a topic of your choosing (in consultation with me) on an aspect of the Latino urban experience in a specific city. You will use class materials as well as outside sources.

Academic Integrity Policy
All students enrolled in the School of Arts and Sciences are responsible for upholding the highest standards of student behavior in accordance with the University’s Code of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity Policy.

Office of Academic Integrity:

Office of Student Conduct:

Course Schedule

Week 1:  Introduction: What is Latino Studies?  What is Urban studies?

Week 2: Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants in San Antonio, Texas, 1880s-1950s

Week 3: Puerto Ricans in New York City: 1910s-1940s

Week 4: Mexican-Americans in Los Angeles, 1900-1940s

Week 5: Puerto Ricans in New York City: 1950s-1980s

Week 6: Mexican-Americans and Puerto Ricans in Chicago, 1960s-1980s

Week 7: Cubans in Miami, 1890s, 1960s-1970s

Week 8: Dominicans in Washington Heights, New York City

Week 9: Mexicans and Central American immigrants in sanctuary and deportation cities, 1980s-2010s

Week 10: Mexican-Americans and Central Americans in Los Angeles, 1950s-1990s

Week 11:  Individual meetings and research, weekly report due

Week 12: Individual meetings and research, weekly report due

Week 13: Individual meetings and research, weekly report due

Week 14: Presentations and discussion