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Migration, Race and Identity: the making of ‘Hispanics' in the United States


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA International Relations.

Course discription

The issue of race and migration plays a pivotal role in the culture and politics of the United States of America, increasingly more. In this course, students will build knowledge on the migration of Latin American citizens into the United States. The course will cover different migration periods since the 19th century to lastly focus on the current framework on migration at the Mexico/US border under the Trump administration.
Today, ‘Latinos’ form the largest minority group in USA with more than 30 million people, a half of them of Mexican origin. Notions of race, color and legal status influence the way Latin Americans integrate and participate in the economy and society. Often, Latin American migrants struggle to keep their national identity and contact with their family members alive.
The course will focus on four main topics that define the life of Latin Americans in USA: the border, the legal status, the neighborhood and the vote. How is the identity of Latin American migrants in the United States defined? How do notions of race influence these perspectives?
In this course, students will review the theoretical and scholarly debates regarding the discourses and representations of ‘Hispanics’ in the political and social landscape of the United States. These debates are useful to unpack the notion of race and racism in the context of migration.

Course objectives

  • Build knowledge on the study of migration of Latin American citizens into USA; understand its historical depth and political relevance in the current landscape;

  • Develop a critical view on the notion of ‘Latinos’ as migrants in USA;

  • Study of the different social, cultural and economic positions Latin Americans have in major cities and the countryside;

  • Conduct bibliographic/documentary research on specific case studies among the different populations of Hispanic migrants in USA;

  • Acquisition of academic abilities: writing a research paper.



Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

Assessment method

The final grade will consist of:

  • Oral presentation(s) 10%

  • Assignment 1: research in progress (2000 words) 30%

  • Assignment 2: final research (4000 words) 60%


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


In case of an unsatisfactory grade, the papers need to be reworked.

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • to post all the necessary information about the course (programme, time tables, announcements, etc.)

  • to post interesting activities (such as Conferences, workshops, expositions, etc.), which are related to the themes analysed during the course

Reading list

  • Castañeda, H. (2010). Im/migration and health: conceptual, methodological, and theoretical propositions for applied anthropology. Napa Bulletin, 34(1), 6-27.

  • Chacón, J. A., Davis, M., & Chacón, J. A. (2006). No one is illegal: Fighting violence and state repression on the US-Mexico border. Haymarket Books.

  • Campos Delgado, A. E., & Odgers Ortiz, O. (2012). Crossing the border: Mobility as a resource in the Tijuana/San Diego and Tecún Umán/Tapachula regions. Estudios fronterizos, 13(26), 9-32.

  • Casellas, J. P., & Ibarra, J. D. (2012). Changing political landscapes for Latinos in America. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 11(3), 234-258.

  • Dávila, A. (2004). Empowered culture? New York City’s empowerment zone and the selling of El Barrio. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 594(1), 49-64.

  • Dávila, A. , Mullings, L. , Rosaldo, R. , Plascencia, L. F., Chavez, L. R., Magaña, R. , Rosas, G. , Aparicio, A. , Nájera, L. G., Zavella, P. Gálvez, A. and Rosa, J. D. (2014), On Latin@s and the Immigration Debate. American Anthropologist, 116: 146-159.

  • De la Cadena, M. (2005). Are Mestizos Hybrids? The Conceptual Politics of Andean Identities. Journal of Latin American Studies, 37(2), 259-284.

  • Fassin, D. (2011). Policing Borders, Producing Boundaries. The Governmentality of Immigration in Dark Times. Annual Review of Anthropology 2011 40:1, 213-226.

  • Fernandez, L. (2012). Brown in the Wind City. Mexicans and Puerto Ricans in Postwar Chicago. The University of Chicago Press.

  • Gálvez, A. (2010). Guadalupe in New York: Devotion and the struggle for citizenship rights among Mexican immigrants. NYU Press.

  • Heyman, J. (2010) ‘US-Mexico Border Cultures and the Challenge of assymetrical interpenetration’ in H. Donnan & T. Wilson (eds.), Borderlands: Ethnographic approaches to security, power, and identity. University Press of America, 2010. 21-31.

  • Lopez, M. H., & Taylor, P. (2012). Latino voters in the 2012 election. Pew Research Hispanic Center.

  • Wallace, S. J. (2012). It's complicated: Latinos, President Obama, and the 2012 election. Social Science Quarterly, 93(5), 1360-1383.


Via uSis.

Contact information