Marion Rohrleitner

in Latino Studies

ISBN: 9780199913701
Published online March 2013 | | DOI:

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  • History of the Americas
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“Pan-latinidad” is a complex term whose meaning changes, depending on historical, geopolitical, and ideological context. In Latin America, pan-latinidad is historically associated with 19th-century independence movements, specifically the decolonizing process, as formulated by Simón Bolívar during the Congreso Anfictiónico de Panamá in 1826. Initially conceived as an ideology aimed at uniting all the colonies in the New World against European imperial rule, pan-latinidad was increasingly invoked to juxtapose an idealist Latin America, which derives its cultural identity from the romance nations of Western Europe, with a utilitarian and pragmatic Anglo-Saxon United States in the mid-19th to early 20th centuries. As a political ideology, pan-latinidad originates in the work of the French economist Michel Chevalier, who argued for a natural cultural affinity between Latin America, France, Italy, Portugal, and Spain in an effort to counter the Monroe Doctrine. José Martí, Rubén Darío, José Enrique Rodó, and José Vasconcelos also argued this position, privileging Latin American cultures over that of the United States, which they perceived as a new imperial force in the Americas. In the 1960s and 1970s the term began to gain currency in the United States, in the wake of the civil rights movement; the Immigration Act of 1965; and the rise of dictatorial regimes in Brazil, Chile, and Argentina. Pan-latinidad emerged with renewed force during the civil wars in Central America in the 1980s in order to facilitate solidarity among groups that might otherwise be separated along national, racial, ethnic, class, linguistic, and religious lines. As Latino/Latina groups in the United States grew in number and purchasing power, pan-latinidad underwent yet another shift and became a category created to describe consumers of diverse Latin American origins in that country. Given this rich and conflicted history, the purpose and usefulness of the term remain contested. To some, pan-latinidad is a powerful tool for mobilizing a varied and historically disenfranchised population in the United States; to others, the term is a cynical corporate invention created by those who capitalize on commodified ethnicity. Still others consider the term redundant, as latinidad is itself an umbrella term. To them, “pan-latinidad” dissolves important historical differences and therefore poses a threat to the hard-earned victories won by social movements based on national origins. Regardless of these disagreements, pan-latinidad continues to gain currency and will become only more significant with the continuously growing Latino/Latina population in the United States.

Article.  5804 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas ; US Cultural History

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