Crossing Disciplinary Borders: Re-examining Latino/a Studies and Latin American Studies in the 1990s

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University of Nebraska-Omaha


Over the 30 years of their existence, studies of Latinos/as in the U.S. and the field of Latin American Studies have emerged largely as divided disciplines. That is, despite what would appear to be similar sensibilities including comparable criticisms of Western hegemony and the neocolonial practices of the U.S., as well as the political, economic, and cultural displacement of similar populations, the two areas of study have more often regarded each other as competitive colleagues rather than complimentary practices. In the following study, I examine the nature of the two disciplines paying particular attention to the political context surrounding their formations and the foundations of their discursive frameworks. I examine changes to these disciplines in the methodological and ideological shifts surrounding the emergence of empirical and postmodern studies, and the relationship between these theoretical shifts and the expansion of globalization. Finally, I conclude with a discussion of the emerging field of transnational and bi-national studies and the opportunities for crossing the disciplinary borders between Latino/studies in the U.S. and Latin American Studies presented in this literature.