Latino/a

As a proper noun, “Latino” designates a resident of the United States who is of Latin American descent. As an adjective, it renders the noun that it modifies somehow pertinent to or associated with such individuals. While the Oxford English Dictionary traces the first use of the label back to the 1940s, it did not gain widespread currency until the 1980s. As Suzanne Oboler (1995) observes, “Latino” emerged as a counter to “Hispanic,” an umbrella term resented by many who fell into its fold as “an artifact created and imposed by state administrative agencies.” Among other things, “Hispanic” implicitly cleaned up the genealogy of the individuals it subsumed by privileging Spanish descent and disarticulating Latin American origins. The insistence on “Latino” over “Hispanic” that proliferated in the 1980s thus emanated from a desire for self-signification as well as a desire to recuperate a connection to Latin America. Moreover, as Felix …

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