Identidades culturales

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Redalyc
Sistema de Información Científica
Red de Revistas Científicas de América Latina, el Caribe, España y Portugal

Rúa, Mérida
Colao subjectivities: Portomex and Mexirican perspectives on language and identity
Centro Journal, Vol. XIII, Núm. 2, 2001, pp. 117-133
The City University of New York
Latinoamericanistas
Disponible en:http://redalyc.uaemex.mx/src/inicio/ArtPdfRed.jsp?iCve=37711308009

Centro Journal
ISSN (Versión impresa): 1538-6279
centro-journal@hunter.cuny.edu
The City University of New York
Latinoamericanistas

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CENTRO Journal

7

Volume xiii Number 2fall 2001

Colao Subjectivities:
PortoMex and MexiRican Perspectives
on Language and Identity1
Mérida Rúa

Abstract
This essay contributes to current theories of latinidad by using ethnographic research to reveal how ordinary people, in this case individuals who are of both Puerto Rican and Mexican ancestry, theorize
latinidad from their lived experiences. This essay is also a reclaimingof
Elena Padilla as a vanguard scholar of Puerto Rican Studies, Latino
Studies, and urban community studies. Building from her work and
drawing from the insight of a generation that is the product of
interLatino encounters in Chicago, I seek to demonstrate the multiple and uneven ways individuals theorize, practice, experience, and
take part in everyday constructions of latinidad. I argue thatmanifestations of latinidad begin with these daily negotiations of identity.

The tendency found among the recent [Puerto Rican] migrants [in Chicago]
to move into the Mexican neighborhoods may result in… Puerto Ricans will
tend to become Mexicanized. This condition will probably operate mainly
with women who will marry into the Mexican group.
Elena Padilla (1947: 98).
***
Yeah, all thetime I’m asked, I say I’m Puerto Rican and Mexican but primarily, you know, when anybody hears me speak… or the way I act, its like, ehh, “Hey,
you look Mexican but you act Puerto Rican, what are you?” I’m a PortoMex
(Olivia)2.

[ 117 ]

Scholarship that debates the notion of latinidad (Acosta-Belén and Santiago 1998;
Aparicio and Chávez-Silverman 1997; Flores 1996; Padilla 1985) rarelycontemplates the
everyday existence of U.S. Latinos like Olivia.3 In the late 1940s, anthropologist Elena
Padilla was a pioneer in theorizing latinidad; her research considered the significance of
interLatino relationships and how prospective identities would unfold from them.
While her conjecture that Puerto Ricans in Chicago would “tend to become
Mexicanized” did not necessarily result in themanner foreseen by her, Padilla’s prediction prompted me to reconsider the relevance of interLatino dynamics and subjectivities in Chicago. Thus, with this essay I hope to contribute to current theories of
latinidad using ethnographic research to show how ordinary people, in this case individuals who are of both Puerto Rican and Mexican ancestry, theorize latinidad from
their lived experiences.This essay also reclaims of Elena Padilla as a vanguard scholar
of Puerto Ricans Studies, Latino Studies, and urban community studies. Building from
her work, and by way of Olivia’s Puerto Ricanized Mexicanness, I seek to demonstrate
the multiple and uneven ways individuals theorize, practice, experience and take part
in everyday constructions of latinidad.4
Traditionally, research in thisarea underscores organized efforts among Latinos of
diverse national backgrounds to build coalitions. Most notable are studies that examine Latino struggles in the spheres of politics, labor, and citizenship rights (de la Garza
et al. 1992; Padilla 1985; Oboler 1995; Flores and Benmayor 1997); the creation of
Latina/o studies programs on college campuses (Aparicio 1999; Flores 1997; Cabán...
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