Hispanic American Legacy, Latino American diaspora

Daniel D. Arreola

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

13 Scopus citations


The ancestors of Hispanic/Latino Americans were present in the territory of the United States before it was a nation-state. That legacy extends from the sixteenth century in parts of present-day New Mexico and Florida and from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in parts of Arizona, Texas, and California. Yet, we read in our popular media about the explosion of Hispanic/Latino populations across the United States, and we are thus tempted to conclude that this ethnic dispersion is a recent diaspora. In truth, Hispanic/Latino Americans are one of the oldest and one of the newest groups of American immigrants. They are also enormously diverse, consisting of not one group, but many subgroups. In 1948, writer Carey McWilliams made this prescient observation in his then path-breaking work, North from Mexico (McWilliams 1968: 7): "There can be no doubt that the Spanish-speaking constitute a clearly delineated ethnic group. But one must also recognize that there is no more heterogeneous ethnic group in the United States than the Spanish-speaking." Further, as Ilan Stavans cautions (2001:19), "To begin, it is utterly impossible to examine Latinos without regard to the geography they come from." In this chapter I introduce the general framework of Hispanic/Latino cultural geography based chiefly on U.S. Census information, and with references to selected writings about these peoples and their places. The chapter pivots on three questions: Who are Hispanic/Latino Americans? How many Hispanic/Latino Americans are there? Where are Hispanic/Latino Americans located? In conclusion, I review some of the debates about the present political and geographical significance of this ethnic population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHispanic Spaces, Latino Places
Subtitle of host publicationCommunity and Cultural Diversity in Contemporary America
PublisherUniversity of Texas Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Print)9780292702677
StatePublished - Dec 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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