Latino Studies

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 317-339

First online:

Processing Latinidad: Mapping Latino Urban Landscapes Through Chicago Ethnic Festivals

  • Lorena GarcíaAffiliated withUniversity of Illinois
  • , Mérida RúaAffiliated withUniversity of Illinois

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Largely interpreted as counter-intuitive to one another, cultural nationalism and panethnicity have been understood as solely an either/or choice. Such dichotomous interpretations of these two configurations have limited our ability to capture their coexistence and further understand Latino experiences. This essay explores the relationship between cultural nationalism and latinidad via the productions of ethnic festivals in Chicago. During a three-week period, the city of Chicago becomes the stage for Latino festive forms. Viva Chicago, Fiesta Boricua, and the celebration of Mexican Independence take place during consecutive weekends in the late summer and early fall. Using the timing and celebration of these festive forms as a point of departure, this paper explores how within productions of cultural nationalism, variations of latinidad are articulated, as well as how within manifestations of latinidad, national origins are still prominent. By centering our investigation on complex moments of convergence, we begin to move away from the analytical trappings of dichotomous thinking, that is, positive/negative, differences/commonalities, conflictive/celebratory, in order to account for the healthy tensions embedded in Latino identity formation. Focusing on the significance of comparative and collaborative approaches to latinidad, this paper ultimately aims to interrogate current understandings of latinidad.


Latino urban studies Chicago latinidad cultural nationalism festive forms collaborative and comparative research