The larger picture: Hispanics/Latinos (and Latino studies) in the colonial horizon of modernity

Book Section

Think of two parallel lines. They do not touch each other. My paper is an argument to connect two such lines. One line is ethnicity and race; the other, cultures of scholarship. The question is simply one of knowledge and human interest. Since this is not geometry, I need to place these parallel lines in the context of history. Thus, I am approaching the topic of this volume from a historical perspective. I do not claim that history can teach us the future. I claim that there is a historical explanation that has been overlooked for the prominence of ethnoracial identity and identification during the last thirty years. It is not history that will teach us the future, but the requitals of what official histories have silenced in the past.1 My argument is not cast in a national perspective, neither Spanish peninsular nor that of any particular Latin American country. Rather, I adopt the perspective of modern world system analysis,2 which I will render as modern/colonial world system perspective, to examine the very constitution of the categories we are dealing with today in the United States.3 Thus, I discuss the making of a Hispanic/Latino category in relation to the larger picture in the Americas, where it interacts with the categories of “Afro-American,�? “Amerindian,�? and “Native American.�? There are reasons, in the very process of the modern/colonial world system, for focusing on these categories and leaving aside, for the moment, other ethnic labels.4 These reasons will become clear later. Although some of the papers included in this volume question historical configuration (Pogge), and others do not directly take it into account (Young), I believe that, on the contrary, structural differences cannot be dealt with adequately without paying due attention to their historicity. Public policy is necessary to redress the inequality and inequities of the present, but it is not good enough to change and satisfy subjectivity. The historicity of public policy is embedded in the coloniality of power and the colonial difference of the modern/colonial world system in which we live. For the sake of clarification, I add that here I talk about coloniality as the invisible but unavoidable other side of modernity. Moreover, the coloniality of power and colonial difference are not strictly of the past, but are still at work in the present.5 Global colonialism, driven by financial markets, is no less a type of colonialism than Christian or British colonialism, driven by the goal of Christianizing or civilizing the world.6.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Mignolo, WD

Published Date

  • January 1, 2012

Book Title

  • Hispanics/Latinos in the United States: Ethnicity, Race, and Rights

Start / End Page

  • 99 - 124

International Standard Book Number 10 (ISBN-10)

  • 0415926203

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9780415926195

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.4324/9780203613566-9

Citation Source

  • Scopus