All of us Americanos: Cultural exhibition and the rise of Latina/os within a national imaginary
This dissertation proposes a culturally-informed, communication approach to the study of Latina/o unity in the United States by exploring the politics, purposes, and problematics of Latina/o coherence and charting the negative regimes of representation that define Latinidad in general market cultural expressions. The author argues for a consideration of theories of articulation and classification to address the unifying problematic in expressions of Latinidad in mainstream culture, and discusses different domains that communication scholars interrogate to study the possibilities and consequences of Latina/o coherence. This dissertation investigates the articulation of Latinidad within a United States national imaginary at the turn of the 21st century by conducting a focused study of Americanos, a multimedia documentary project undertaken by Edward J. Olmos and his partners, Time Warner and the Smithsonian Institution. Americanos attempts to combat the negative stereotypes and marginalization that characterize Latina/o media representation by using positive and depoliticized imagery. Informed by a review of the emergent field of Latina/o media studies and through semiotic textual analysis and audience research in the cultural studies tradition, this dissertation finds that the positive lens of Americanos, like other instances of the so-called "Latin pop explosion," works within liberal multiculturalism to produce a transcultural and celebratory Latinidad without addressing structural power. Interviews with visitors to the Americanos photography exhibit in Los Angeles demonstrate the seduction of positive imagery, but Chicana/o college student responses also show how cultural competence can cultivate more critical and oppositional readings of difference.
Minority & ethnic groups;
0631: Minority & ethnic groups
0323: American studies