- Hispanic Spaces, Latino Places: Community and Cultural Diversity in Contemporary America
Based on papers from the Association of American Geographers annual meeting in 2002, Daniel D. Arreola's essay collection Hispanic Spaces, Latino Places offers rich information and insights on changing demographics and settlement patterns in the United States. Divided into sections focusing on "Continuous Communities," "Discontinuous Communities," and "New Communities," this book enhances the study of Hispanics/Latinos through an array of research methodologies and data collection strategies. Essays examine the historical dynamics surrounding the immigration, economic conditions, and regional cultural landscapes of Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods.
In his introduction, Arreola gives a well-documented intellectual history of cultural geography relevant to Hispanics while outlining different research categories and bibliographic sources pertinent to Hispanic/Latino cultural landscapes. The first chapter provides an overview of this population and identifies where they live in the United States, using census data and supplementary linguistic, cultural, and historical information to clarify the concept of Hispanic/Latino Americans.
In the first section, titled "Continuous Communities," the contributors examine pivotal cultural landscapes, such as the plaza and specific neighborhoods, and pay special attention to social and economic factors. Jeffrey S. Smith writes in "The Plaza in Las Vegas, New Mexico: A Community Gathering Place" that the plaza is not a tourist attraction; on the contrary, it serves as a key cultural site for the town's residents. In "Social Geography of Laredo, Texas, Neighborhoods: Distinctiveness and Diversity in a Majority-Hispanic Place," Michael S. Yoder and René La Perriére de Gutiérrez compare two poor, working-class neighborhoods with two emerging, middle-class suburbs in Laredo. They observe that the social class differences among these neighborhoods give rise to similar cultural practices operating at different socioeconomic levels, such as carne asadas (cook-outs), landscaping, and neighborhood designs.
The three chapters in the "Discontinuous Communities" section provide very good synopses of the history of settlement patterns of Latinos, incorporating demographic data to account for changes in urban landscapes. Brian J. Godfrey's "Barrio Under Siege: Latino Sense of Place in San Francisco, California" portrays Latinos as agents who resist external pressures by utilizing community events and projects, such as festivals, neighborhood art projects, housing groups, and urban planning groups. Lawrence A. Herzog, in "Globalization of the Barrio: Transformation of the Latino Cultural Landscapes of San Diego, California," discusses several models for studying urban cultural sites. These chapters offer insightful explanations of reinvented cultural landscapes from social, economic, political, and cultural perspectives.
The third section consists of eight chapters that examine the cultural landscapes of newly settled Hispanic/Latino urban neighborhoods and small towns originally founded by non-Hispanic whites. These chapters document cultural objects that signal membership in a particular Hispanic culture and analyze how Latino identity changes throughout the neighborhoods, taking into account the source country, the initial experience in the host country, and the international and transnational movements that affect the cultural landscape. Marie Price and Courtney Whitworth examine places where immigrants affirm their cultural identities, like soccer leagues, and refer to these sites [End Page 237] as "thirdspaces." Other studies focus on documenting the commercial landscapes and residential spaces. These chapters address contemporary issues surrounding the recent Hispanic/ Latino immigration and its impact on the cultural landscape in the United States. These studies make connections between the rate of the Hispanic/Latino population's growth and the number of Spanish-language cultural markers in neighborhoods. Here, authors identify and compare these spatial patterns to assess social changes and develop public policies.
All of the chapters in this book are well researched and documented; they use a variety of methods and fieldwork strategies, and offer a rich database of commercial, residential, and leisure landscapes, which lend themselves readily to folklore analysis. I highly recommend this book to everyone interested in folklore research methods, urban planning, immigrant folklore, and Hispanic studies in the United States.