What is it about?

Ilan Stavans constructs a multiculturalist framework for understanding the US Latino/a experience. By reading The Hispanic Condition (1995) alongside Stavans’ discussions of the Latino/a literary canon in the introductions to his anthologies, New World (1997) and Lengua Fresca (Augenbraum and Stavans, 2006), and his articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education, I argue that this multiculturalist approach is based on an equation of culture with language. Through this linguistic formulation of Latinidad with the Spanish language as its defining facet, Stavans privileges a colonialist rendering of Latino/a history, tracing the ancestral lineage of Latino/as in terms of solely Western European culture. By valorizing Spanish colonization, Stavans glosses over sites of violence in order to highlight a linguistic inheritance and formulates US Latino/a identity in opposition to American indigenous cultures.

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Why is it important?

Uncovering the way in which Ilan Stavans positions the indigenous as Other in his multiculturalist approach to Latinidad is essential to understanding the colonialist and conservative underpinnings of how Stavans structures the Latino/a literary canon. I will consequently address how Latino/a Studies critics have wrestled with Stavans’ influence on the field and the ways in which Stavans’ vision of US Latino/a Studies resembles or reflects its institutional orientation and disciplinary locations.

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This page is a summary of: Reconquista: Ilan Stavans and multiculturalist Latino/a discourse, Latino Studies, December 2009, Springer Science + Business Media, DOI: 10.1057/lst.2009.42.
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