Dávila finds that Latinos' increased popularity in the marketplace is simultaneously accompanied by their growing exotification and invisibility. She scrutinizes the complex interests that are involved in the public representation of Latinos as a generic and culturally distinct people and questions the homogeneity of the different Latino subnationalities that supposedly comprise the same people and group of consumers. In a fascinating discussion of how populations have become reconfigured as market segments, she shows that the market and marketing discourse become important terrains where Latinos debate their social identities and public standing.
Illegal immigrant, tax burden, job stealer. Patriot, family oriented, hard worker, model consumer. Ever since Latinos became the largest minority in the U.S. they have been caught between these wildly contrasting characterizations leaving us to wonder: Are Latinos friend or foe?
Latino Spin cuts through the spin about Latinos’ supposed values, political attitudes, and impact on U.S. national identity to ask what these caricatures suggest about Latinos’ shifting place in the popular and political imaginary. Noted scholar Arlene Dávila illustrates the growing consensus among pundits, advocates, and scholars that Latinos are not a social liability, that they are moving up and contributing, and that, in fact, they are more American than “the Americans.” But what is at stake in such a sanitized and marketable representation of Latinidad? Dávila follows the spin through the realm of politics, think tanks, Latino museums, and urban planning to uncover whether they effectively challenge the growing fear over Latinos’ supposedly dreadful effect on the “integrity” of U.S. national identity. What may be some of the intended or unintended consequences of these more marketable representations in regard to current debates over immigration?
With particular attention to what these representations reveal about the place and role of Latinos in the contemporary politics of race, Latino Spin highlights the realities they skew and the polarization they effect between Latinos and other minorities, and among Latinos themselves along the lines of citizenship and class. Finally, by considering Latinos in all their diversity, including their increasing financial and geographic disparities, Dávila can present alternative and more empowering representations of Latinidad to help attain true political equity and intraracial coalitions.
Exposing and challenging the taken-for-granted assumptions around questions of space, value and mobility that are sustained by neoliberal treatments of culture, Culture Works explores some of the hierarchies of cultural workers that these engender, as they play out in a variety of settings, from shopping malls in Puerto Rico and art galleries in New York to tango tourism in Buenos Aires. Noted scholar Arlene Dávila brilliantly reveals how similar dynamics of space, value and mobility come to bear in each location, inspiring particular cultural politics that have repercussions that are both geographically specific, but also ultimately global in scope.
Through original and insightful ethnography, Dávila shows that class in the neoliberal city is increasingly defined by the shopping habits of ordinary people. Moving from the global operations of the shopping mall industry to the experience of shopping in places like Bogotá, Colombia, El Mall is an indispensable book for scholars and students interested in consumerism and neoliberal politics in Latin America and the world.
Dávila scrutinizes dramatic shifts in housing, the growth of charter schools, and the enactment of Empowerment Zone legislation that promises upward mobility and empowerment while shutting out many longtime residents. Foregrounding privatization and consumption, she offers an innovative look at the marketing of Latino space. She emphasizes class among Latinos while touching on black-Latino and Mexican-Puerto Rican relations. Providing a unique multifaceted view of the place of Latinos in the changing urban landscape, Barrio Dreams is one of the most nuanced and original examinations of the complex social and economic forces shaping our cities today.