Department of Latino and Caribbean Studies
School of Arts and Sciences

LatCar 595:101 Introduction to Latino Studies

Last updated

Dr. Aldo Lauria Santiago


This course examines some of the central themes that shape the diverse experiences and cultures of Latino populations in the United States. Some of the main organizing topics include the politics of labeling and identity; migration and community; Latino work and wealth; race, color and racial formations; education and the politics of language; Latino electoral politicas and activism; and popular culture. The main goal of the course is to invite students to think critically and understand the conceptual, political, and historical issues that inform Latino experiences in the U.S. The course requires students to engage in a critical examination of a wide selection of materials ranging from anthropological, sociological, and historical texts to short stories and poetry, documentary and fiction films and media art in an effort to place the experience of diverse Latino populations in social, political, historical, and interdisciplinary perspectives. The course will serve as the basic intellectual map to the research interests of the department's faculty and to our higher-level course offerings and goals. The course is required of all majors and minors in LHCS.


After completing this course, the attentive students who do the required work will be able to:

  1. Gain an understanding of the development of Latino Studies as a field, including its relationship to the broader US comparative ethnic and racial studies fields.
  2. Learn about the challenges and possibilities of interdisciplinary research
  3. Understand central aspects of the US Latino experience as rooted in a particular political history linked to grassroots activism and social movements in the late 1960 and 1970s.
  4. Critically assess the presence and impact of Latinos on U.S. economy, society, and culture and the place of “Latinos“ in the contemporary U.S. public sphere.

This course is certified for the Core Curriculum and meets the following learning goal:

21st Century Challenges
a-Analyze the degree to which forms of human difference shape a person’s experience of and perspectives on the world.

Students are expected to read all required readings, view all scheduled films, attend class on time, and participate actively in the discussions that follow every lecture, films, and in-class group assignments. Grades will be based on attendance and active participation in class discussions and group work, written work, and exams according to the formula listed below.

The take home final essay (20% of final grade) will assess students' achievement of the Core Curriculum learning goal 21C (goal a).

Cell phones and other electronic devices must be turned off during class. Failure to follow this policy will result in a deduction of points from class attendance and participation. If a student persistently violates this rule she or he will be asked to leave.

Absences will only be excused under extraordinary circumstances such as medical emergencies or car failures. In such cases, you must email me and bring a doctor's note for the following class. You are also expected to use the new University absence reporting website to indicate the date and reason for your absence.  An email is automatically sent to me by this system. Missing classes without presenting proper documentation will affect your final grade for this course (eg. you lose a significant amount of points for unjustified absences). The professor holds the right to call on students in class discussions and as  explained above there may be unannounced quizzes on the readings throughout the semester.

Attendance, quizes & active participation (20% of final grade):
Students will sign an attendance sheet at the beginning of class. Persistent lateness is disturbing to the development of class dynamic.

I will occassionaly have you complete unanunced short answer essays in class to test and review the assigned written material.

Autobiographical Essay (15% of final grade):
The first paper for the class will be a 4-5-page, double-spaced autobiographical essay. This essay should consist of the examination of an events, people, experiences, or a situations (or a combination of these) that has helped to shape the way in which you view the world. You should try to reference the role of class, gender, race, ethnicity, language, nationla origin and immigration in your story. If you would like to see a sample of this kind of project, see "Biography in the Shadows" the last chapter in Ruth Behar's Translated Woman, which is available on the Sakai course site.

Short Semi-Weekly Discussion Papers (25% of final grade)

First Exam (20% of final grade):
An in-class fact and interpretation based review of major contributions from the readings.

Second Exam (20% of grade):
There will be a two part final examination for this class. The exam will test the main concepts, readings, and discussions in which we have engaged throughout the semester. The first part will be in-class and you will identify fifteen fact-based from the second half of the term in a few sentences. The second will be a comprehensive take home essay. More information on the format of the exam will be given later in the semester.


  • Autobiographical Essay Due
  • Semi-weekly discussion papers: as announced
  • In-class Midterm exam
  • Final Exam Part I
  • Final Exam Part II--Take Home Essay questions due by midnight

Final grades will be calculated according to the Department's current grade policy: A (93-100) / B+ (89-92)/ B (81-88) / C+ (77-80) / C (70-76) / D (65-69) / F (64 and Below)

1. Class attendance and participation.Attendance and active participation in this course is mandatory and absences will only be excused under extraordinary circumstances such as medical emergencies. In such c ases, students must email instructor and bring a doctor's note for the following class. Missing classes without presenting proper documentation will affect your final grade for this course. Students will sign the attendance sheet at the beginning of class. Lateness is very disturbing to the development of class dynamics and will not be tolerated. If you arrive more than 5 minutes late, you don't get to sign in and you'll loose points on the attendance portion of your final grade! Cell phones and other electronic devices must be turned off during class. If using a laptop computer o an ipad in the classroom you must disabled the wireless Internet access. Failure to turn off electronic gadgets will result in a deduction of points from class attendance and participation.

2. Communication with professor. I value direct and clear communication with students. If you have any sorts of issues which are affecting your participation in this class, come to my office hours or contact me via email to set up an appointment. In general, students are encouraged to use the office hours to seek help with processing course materials and to discuss your progress in the course. Information regarding this course will be circulated on email via Sakai. It is your responsibility to check your email the day before class for important updates.

3. Writing assignments. Any sources informing your writing for this class must be cited appropriately and included in a bibliography at the end of the paper or assignment using standard social science citation practice (in-text citations and an appropriately formatted final bibliography at the end-we will go over this in class before the first assignment is due). Students must proof-read and run spell-check before turning assignments in. Points will be deducted on written assignments that do not meet such basic standards. Students are strongly encouraged to seek help with writing assignments from any of the Campus Writing Centers. Assignments must be submitted to your Sakai dropbox before the beginning of class. No hardcopies are necessary unless otherwise indicated by the Professor. No late assignments will be accepted and make-up work may not be requested for missed assignments unless exceptional circumstances such as medical emergencies inhibit a student to hand in work on time.

4. Plagiarism. Plagiarism is the presentation of someone else's ideas, words, or artistic, scientific, or technical work as one's own creation. Using the ideas or work of others is permissible only when the original author is recognized. Paraphrasing and summarizing, as well as direct quotations, require citations to the original source. Plagiarism may be intentional or unintentional. It is the student's responsibility to recognize the difference between statements that are common knowledge (which do not require documentation) and restatements of the ideas of others. Paraphrase, summary, and direct quotation are acceptable forms of restatement, as long as the source is appropriately cited. Lack of dishonest intent does not necessarily absolve a student of responsibility for plagiarism. Students caught copying from another source without due credit will automatically receive an F on the assignment in question and will fail the course. In addition, they will be reported to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs (SJA) and appropriate sactions will be applied. Please familiarize yourself with Rutgers' policy on academic integrity available at If you still have questions about what constitutes plagiarism, ask!

5. Students with disabilities. Rutgers University welcomes students with disabilities into all of the University's educational programs. In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, a student with a disability must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation: If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus's disability services office will provide you with a Letter of Accommodations. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. To begin this process, please complete the Registration form on the ODS web site at:


The course materials consist of journal articles, legal documents, essays, text selections, and book chapters that are available from the Sakai site at To access the readings, log in with your Rutgers net-ID and click under "resources" tab. If you have any problem downloading the assigned readings, please let me know ahead of time via email.

We will be reading one full monograph midway thorugh the course. You will need to acquire the full text through purchase or loan.


Topic #1: What is Latino Studies?

Sept 6

  • Introduction and discussion of syllabus
  • Pedro Caban. "Moving From the Margins to Where? Three Decades of Latino/A Studies." Latino Studies. 1 (2003)
  • Darder and Torress. "Mapping Latino Studies-Class and Social Theory". Latino Studies Journal. 1 (2003).
  • Juan Flores. "Latino Studies. New Contexts, New Concepts. New Contexts, New Concepts."


Topic #2: Who are Latinos Today?

Sept 11, 13

  • Finish Reading Caban from last week!
  • Jose Calderon. "Hispanic and Latino: The Viability of Categories for Panethnic Unity. In Latin American Perspectives, Issue 75, vol. 19, no. 4, (1992) pp. 137-44.
  • Suzanne Oboler, "The Politics of Labeling: Latino/a Cultural Identities of Self and Others," Latin American Perspectives, pp. 18-36.
  • Pew Hispanic Center Demographic Data
  • Data for Tuesday Class
  • Social Explorer Maps
  • First short discussion (For Wed post to sakai dropbox by class time): Do you think the "Latino" category is too encompassing? Or is there some coherence despite the diversity? I amnot interested in your opinion, I am interested in your analysis and assessment of the readings and their claims/evidence.

Topic #3: Where do Latinos come from?

Sept 18

  • Juan Gonzalez.Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America. Chap. 2-3.

Sept 20

  • Film: Harvest of Empire (Dir. by Peter Getzels and Eduardo Lopez, USA, 2010)
  • Oboler, Suzanne. "Introduction: Los Que Llegaron: 50 Years of South American Immigration (1950-2000)-An Overview," Latino Studies 3, no. 1 (April 2005): 42-52.

Sept 25

  • Acu~na, Rodolfo. Occupied America: A History of Chicanos. Chap. 3.
  • Autobiographical essay due.

Sept 27

  • Whalen. From Puerto Rico to Philadelphia 48-92.

Topic #4: Are Latinos Exiles, Immigrants, Transnationals, Minorities, Americans-or all of the above?

Oct 2

  • Film Clip: El Super.
  • Luis E. Guarnizo. "Los Dominicanyorks: The Making of a Binational Society," in Challenging Fronteras: Structuring Latina and Latino Lives in the U.S., ed. Mary Romero et al. , 161-174.
  • Suarez Orozco. "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Assimilation But Were Afraid To Ask." Daedalus, Vol. 129, No. 4, Fall 2000.
  • For Thursday Oct 5:  What do the stories of two or three of the "national origin" migration cases discussed in Theme 3 have in common (or not in common)?  Two page discussion to the drop box.  Have a question comparing one case with another? Ask me or google it.

Oct 4

Midterm Guide

Topic #5: How do Latinos get jobs and earn a living?

Oct 9

  • Carmen Teresa Whalen. From Puerto Rico to Philadelphia: Puerto Rican Workers and Postwar Economies, Chap. 5.
  • Sandy Smith-Nonini. 2003. "Back to the 'Jungle': Processing Migrants in North Carolina Meat Packing Plants." Anthropology of Work Review 24(3-4): 14-20.
  • For October 11: One page discussion: What do Latinos share or not so much share with other Americans when it comes to work, mobility and socio-economic well being?
  • Pew Hispanic: Generatational Differences among Latinos

Oct 11

Topic #6: How have Latinos fought for rights, inclusion, and empowerment?

Oct 16

  • Midterm Exam!

Oct 18

  • Guest Lecture: Prof. Lilia Fernandez
  • Film Clip: Chicano!
  • Fernandez. "The Young lords and the roots of urban Radicalism."
  • Lilia Fernandez. Brown in the Windy City, Chap. 6.
  • Carlos Larralde. "Josefina Fierro and the Sleepy Lagoon Crusade, 1942-1945." Southern California Quarterly.Vol. 92, No. 2 (Summer 2010), 117-160.
  • Cesar Ayala and Jennifer McCormick. Feliciita 'La Prieta' Mendez (1916-1998) and the end of Latino school segregation in California." Centro Journal. 19:2 Fall 2007.
  • Select one of these:
    • First Chicano National Conference, "El Plan Espirtual de Aztlan (1969)," Aztlan: Essays on the Chicano Homeland, eds. Rudolfo A. Anaya and Francisco Lomeli (Academia/El Norte Publications, 1989), 1-5.
    • "Young Lords Party: 13 Point Program and Platform," Palante: The Young Lords Party, ed. Young Lords Party and Michael Abramson (NY: McGraw-Hill, 1970), 150.

Oct 23

  • Film clip: Iris Morales, "Palante, Siempre Palante: The Young Lords," documentary film, 1996.
  • Borinqueneers--Puerto Ricans in Korean War
  • Ana Aparicio. "Transglocal Barrio Politics: Dominican American Organizing in New York City," in Beyond El Barrio: Everyday Life in Latina/o America. Gina Perez & Frank Guridy, eds.
  • Chapter from Immigrant marches book.
  • Lisa Garcia Bedolla. Fluid Borders. Chap 5.

Topic #7: How do Latinos experience and occupy rural, urban and suburban spaces?

Oct 25

  • Film Clip: That old Gang of Mine
  • Davila. "The Times Squaring of El Barrio."
  • Ismael Garcia-Colon."Claiming Equality: Puerto Rican Farmworkers in Western New York," Latino Studies, Vol. 6, No. 3, 2008, 269-289.

Oct 30

  • Film Clip: Farmingville
  • Haverluk. "The Hispanization of Hereford, Texas." Hispanic Spaces Latino Places. Ch.14.
  • Bustamante. "History of Colonia Libertad, Texas." Ethnic Affairs
  • Berg. Mobile Selves: Race, Migration and Belonging in Peru and the US.Chapter 5

Nov 1

  • Catch-up day.

Topic #8: How do Latinos become "Americans" in the early 21st Century?

Nov 6, 8, 13, 15

  • We will be reading one of these two books for this unit and having smaller group discussion meetings (seminar style)
  • Sujey Vega. Latino Heartland: Of Borders and Belonging in the Midwest.
  • Angela Stuesse. Scratching Out a Living: Latinos, Race, and Work in the Deep South.

Topic #9: What does Latina Feminism look like? Latino masculinities?

Nov 20, 22

Pick two of these

  • Anzaldua, Gloria, "Toward a New Consciousness," Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1987), 100-120.
  • "Puerto Rican Queeer Sexualities"
  • Soloman. Queer Migrations. Ch.1
  • Anzaldua. "The Homeland, Atzlan." Borderlands, Ch.1
  • The Latina Feminist Group, Telling to Live: Latina Feminist Testimonies (Durham: Duke University Press, 2001), 39-42, 43-54, 61-68, 139-147, 169-176, 192-195, 196-200, and 218-226.
  • Pe~na, Susana, "Pajaration and Transculturation: Language and Meaning in Miami's Cuban American Gay Worlds," Speaking in Queer Tongues: Language, Globalization, and New Articulations of Same-Sex Desire, eds. William M. Leap and Tom Boellstorff. 231-250.
  • Chavez, Leo. "Latina Sexuality, Reproduction, and Fertility as Threats to the Nation." In Delgado and Stefancic (eds): The Latino Condition: A Critical Reader, 531-540.
  • Carolyn Pinedo Turnovsky, "A la Parada: The Social Practices of Men on a Street Corner," In Social Text, pp. 55-72.
  • Carlos Decena. Tacit Subjects. Chap. 1.

Topic #10: What are "Latino Cultures"? Latino Cultural Production?

Nov 27, 29

In class:

  • Pietri, Pedro. "Puerto Rican Obituary." In Boricuas, edited by Roberto Santiago, pp.117-125.
  • "Yo Soy Joaquin"

Pick three:

  • Pi~nero, La Bodega Sold Dreams (Arte Publico Press). Read poems: "Seekin' the Cause," "A Lower East Side Poem" y "The Book of Genesis According to St. Miguelito."
  • Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe (Holt, 1994). Read poems by Sandra María Esteves, Willie Perdomo, and Edwin Torres.
  • Algarin, Miguel. 1981. "Nuyorican Literature." In MELUS.
  • Agueros, "Halfway to Dick and Jane A Puerto Rican Pilgrimage"
  • Beltran--Latina Stars in U.S Eyes, Chapter 3--Rita Moreno
  • Achy Obejas, We came all the way from Cuba so you could dress like this? (San Francisco: Cleis Press, 1994), 113-131.
  • Julia Alvarez, “Our Papers” and I want to be Miss América,” in Something to Declare (NY: Algonquin Books, 1998): 13-19 and 37-44.

Useful Links:

Topic #11: What are the sounds of Latinidad?

Dec 4

Pick three of these readings:

  • San Miguel. "The rise of recorded Tejano music." Journal of American Ethnic History.
  • Raquel Z. Rivera, "Puerto Ricans, EthnoRacial..."
  • Marisol Berrios-Miranda, "Salsa Music as Expressive Liberation," Centro Journal.
  • Christina Abreu, "Celebrity, Crossover, Cubanidad: Celia Cruz as La Reina de Salsa," Latin American Music Review 28, 1 (2007): 94-124.
  • Cepeda. "Media and the Musical, NuestroHimno Raggaeton Latino." Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, 16:5, 548-572,
  • Singer-Martinez. "A South Bronx Latin Music Tale." Centro Journal.
  • Aparicio, Frances R. "Jennifer as Selena: Rethinking Latinidad in media and popular culture." Latino Studies 1.1 (2003): 90-105.
  • Latin Beat. "The Hidden History of Latinos in Rock and Hip Hop." Ch.9
  • Figueroa, "New York Music Landmarks."


Watch some docs:

Topic #12: We will cover the Topic 9 materials as make-up because of delays.

Dec 6

  • Pick one reading from Topic 9 to discuss

Topic #13: How do Latino youth come of age in U.S. society?

Dec 11

Pick two of these articles:

  • Obrego Pagan. "Los Angeles Geopolitics & the Zoot Suit Riot." Social Science History. 2000.
  • Jana Schwartz, Jody Donovan and Florence Guido-Brito, "Stories of Social Class: Self-Identified Mexican Male College Students Crack the Silence," Journal of College Student Development 50:1 (2009).
  • Johanna Dreby. "Honor and Virtue: Mexican Parenting in Transnational Context." Gender and Society.
  • Abrego, Leisy Janet. "'I can't go to college because I don't have papers": Incorporation patterns of Latino undocumented youth." Latino Studies 4.3 (2006): 212-231.
  • Dreby. "Children and Power in Mexican Transnational Families."
  • Seif. "Undocumented Latino Youth, Mexican-American Legislators, and the Struggle for Higher Education Access"

Data note:

Topic #14:

Dec 13

    • Second Exam