Hispanic Literature History and Background
Latino v. Hispanic v.Chicano What’s the right term?
Latino • “Latin” comes from Italy • Latin in the base language of Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and French • For example, in Spanish the word for cave is “cueva”, in Portuguese “cova”, Italian “cava”
The Latins (aka Romans) invaded the Iberian Peninsula • Founded a province named “Hispania” • Lived there 7 centuries • “Hispania” evolved into España (Spain)
Latin America • Latin America is a geographic location • People from Latin America are all Latin, but not all Hispanic • For example, Brazilians speak Portuguese, making them Latin not Hispanic
“Latino/a” • The term “Latino” (as we -- Americans-- use it) encompasses all citizens of the United States whose heritage is Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central American, and South American.
Hispanic • “Hispanic” was later used to refer to all territories conquered by Spain in the New World • This covers almost all of Latin America
“Hispanic” came about in the 1970s as a US Census attempt to quantify Spanish-speaking people • Today Hispanic is used to refer to any people whose culture and heritage have direct ties to Spain
Hispanic is not a RACE but an ETHNIC distinction • Hispanics come from all races and physical traits
Chicano • Exclusive term used solely in reference to people of Mexican descent • Conquistadors called Mexican Indians “Mexicas” • Spaniards dropped the “me” and called them Xicanos (or Chicanos)
“Chicano” • Became popular in 1930’s and 40’s as a derogatory term for Mexicans imported for cheap field labor. • Term went out of style • In 1960’s and 70’s the Brown Power Movement adopted it as term for Mexican-American • Today term still has negative connotations for many Mexican-Americans
History of Latino Literature • Roots in legends and myths • Began as oral tradition • Ties to the Catholic religion of Spain
Latino Literature • Common themes: Familial relationships and Loyalties Poverty Gender roles Social protest and Exploitation
Why Poverty? • Poverty is largely at issue because of the desperate situations in which many Latin American countries find themselves.
Why Families? • Family is considered one's strongest bond and loyalty, and people in the workforce must often work to support relatives both in the U.S. and in other native countries.
Why gender roles? • Traditionally, older customs and cultural traditions prevail. Women were expected to be obedient and uphold the family honor.
Why social protest and exploitation? • Many Hispanic countries have gone through periods of social unrest. • Cuba = communism • Dominican Republic = dictatorship
Conclusion • Hispanic literature is rich with culture and social commentary. • Hispanic literary themes echo American literature • Themes are based on life experiences • We will use terms “Hispanic” and “Latino” interchangeably.