The question “How is it possible to know Latinidad?,” posed by late queer Latino critic José Esteban Muñoz (2000), reveals the semantic messiness and the multiple layers of meanings that the term “Latinidad” suggests in its numerous and contradictory iterations. Yet, rather than indulge in skepticism about this term, I exhort Latina/o studies scholars to reclaim it and deploy it in ways that allow our communities and others to exert agency and more control over the public definitions of who we are. If the term “Latinidad” emerged most strongly in literary studies as an abstract signifier that remitted us to the condition of being Latina/o, today it is more strongly anchored in the social, everyday realities of our diasporic communities and in the spaces populated by Latinas/os of various nationalities, generations, immigrant statuses, and racial and gender identities. It now signals the mutual transculturations and horizontal hierarchies that emerge in these spaces. In this essay, I will trace some of the semantic shifts in the ways Latina/o studies scholars have deployed the term. If umbrella terms have been appropriated by the market, by media, and by activists, as G. Cristina Mora (2014) has examined in Making Hispanics, the term “Latinidad”...

This essay may be found on page 113 of the printed volume.

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