Centering Latinx Spaces in the “Nowhereness” between Global North and South

Authors: Danielle Rivera*, University of Colorado, Boulder
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Latin America, Urban Geography
Keywords: Latinx studies, urban planning, urban theory
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Governor's Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


“Necesitamos teorías [We need theories] that will rewrite history using race, class, gender and ethnicity as categories of analysis, theories that cross borders, that blur boundaries—new kinds of theories with new theorizing methods.” ~Gloria Anzaldúa (1990, p. XXV)

Latinx Studies has long sought to re-center theory on Latinx populations, deterring colonial theories from driving important discussions. As a result, their body of work in the humanities and arts frequently challenges distinctions of “Global North” and “Global South,” since Latinx cultures cut across these divides (Anzaldúa, 1981; Laviera, 2006; Vargas, Mirabal, & La Fountain-Stokes, 2017). However, in urban theory, Latinx spaces are generally theorized from dominant narratives emphasizing North/South dichotomies, devaluing and decentering Latinx perspectives in the process. To help generate counternarratives, this paper asks: how have Latinx communities centered and theorized their own spaces and how should this impact urban theory?

As a starting point in this conversation, this paper analyzes Latinx works in the humanities and arts for ideas of space and community, focusing mainly on communities in Puerto Rico and at the Mexico/United States border. Across the body of work analyzed, several themes emerge, including: feelings of placelessness, nowhereness, and inbetweenness; issues of diaspora; and continued colonialialty. The common thread in these themes is a sense of violence wrought by dichotomous North/South theorizations of space—the overlay of North/South against the continuity of the communities beneath is mirrored in both the local rejection of dominant theoretical frameworks, and in the resulting new models produced there.

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