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UNITED STATES: Hispanic Population

The use of terms like "latino" is sensitive and has aroused lots of WAISers. Manuel Vargas, who teaches philosophy at Stanford, writes:

"Though such discussions have a longer history in Latin American philosophy, recently a number of philosophers in the United States have taken to addressing the use of ethnic identity labels among Latinos in the US. Perhaps most prominently, Jorge Gracia in Hispanic/Latino Identity (Blackwell 2000) argues that the term "Hispanic" is the best umbrella term for the various groups of Latin American, US Latinos, and Spanish throughout the world. If I understand him properly, Basques would count as Hispanics. He goes to great length to point out that ethnic diversity has a long-standing place in Spanish and Latin American cultures. Still, he contends that there is a "family resemblance" between the various groups, based on a set of not universally shared but at least frequently overlapping links to the events of 1492. Responses to this book and other related issues can also been found in Gracia and DeGreiff, Hispanic/Latinos in the United States (Routledge 2000).

I used the Gracia book in a class I taught last spring. The students were of mixed ethnic and national status: some Latin Americans, some US Latinos, others US non-Latinos. Reactions to the book varied, but there was general support for the idea that a new framework of concepts is needed to address these issues in a way that better relates the linkages and differences between the various groups. "

Ronald Hilton - 1/24/01