Summer Reading 2

Calafell, Bernadette Marie and Delgado, Fernando P. (2004). “Reading Latina/o images: Interrogating Americanos,” Critical Studies in Media Communication, 21: 1, 1-24.

Calafell and Delgado explore the implications of Americanos, a book of photos of Latinas and Latinos in the U.S. They suggest that the text is critical of flattened, stereotypical understandings of latinidad in the States.

  • The authors cite Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities to frame their work.
  • The authors incorporate elements familiar to postmodernists and third-wave feminists: Latina/os remain dynamic and difficult to fix precisely because they are responsive to their shifting environment, their historical contextualization in the U.S. and their pursuit of opportunities there as well as their ties to their cultural homes” (2).
  • The authors discuss “hyphenated Americans.” Although the context leads me to believe they did not coin this term, this is the first time I’ve encountered it and it seems to me to have a lot of potential as a representation of othered groups.
  • This article discusses some dominant discourses about Latina/os and sets out to show how Americanos participates in a critique of them. For example, one such discourse is the idea that Latina/os are “invaders” who intend to “rob the US of its resources” (3). Americanos offers a more complex narrative than this.
  • “It aims at both the Aristotelian goal of persuasion and the Burkeian presumption of rhetorical discourse as identification. In the first instance, Americanos functions as a vernacular rhetoric that retells the story of Latina/o peoples and counters the legacy of distorted impressessions of Latina/o peoples and cultures. IN the second, the text imagines a pan-Latina/o reality through the iages and their composition within the text and invistes readers (Latina/os and non-Latina/os alike) to recognize the connectedness among the variety of Latina/os” (4).
  • The authors make an argument based on three concepts: third space, crossing (borders), and los sagrados.
  • The authors set up Americanosas a “plea” (8). Given their attention to the language of classical rhetoric, what does it mean for them to identify this work with judicial rather than deliberative or even epideictic rhetoric?
  • Attention to the word American is fascinating: It’s the “most unifying single word in the hemisphere. But for some reason the United States has coine it as their word” (Olmos cited in Calafell and Delgado, 9).
  • Note the incorporation of La Malinche as a cultural icon. (11)
  • The authors engage in a rhetoric of “overcoming” in relation to Latina/os who “make it.” This is an interesting connection to dis/ability rhetorics, where the rhetoric of overcoming has been critiqued.
  • The authors say that Americanos “posits los sagrados (the sacred) as a way to see how rituals serve as a means to resist assimilation while simultaneously complicating the meaning and impact of religious practices both inside and outside of the culture” (14). This bears interesting connections to Francesca Bray’s work in gynotechnicas, wherein she expands the definition of technology to include social rituals.
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