2010 Student Research Conference:
23rd Annual Student Research Conference

Identity Politics: Deconstructing "Latino" in the Works of Junot Díaz and Piri Thomas
Jessica L. Reavey
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

According to philosopher Jorge Garcia, "[Hispanics/Latinos] need to begin the process of reflection about who [they] are..." Finding one's own identity is something many struggle to ascertain. It is no different for the Hispanics in "Drown," by Junot Díaz, and Down These Mean Streets, by Piri Thomas, except that the Non-Hispanic world in the United States labels them all as "Latino," or sometimes, in the case of Piri, "Black." The characters in these literary texts are not satisfied with being part of one monolithic homogenous category, termed "Latino" by the dominant American culture. Instead, they emphasize their individual, unique identities, breaking down "Latino" into, for example, "Puerto Rican," "Dominican." This paper will analyze these ethnic-identity categorizations to demonstrate why identity plays a central role in Díaz's and Thomas' texts and how their internalized sense of self is more important to these characters than how the outside world categorizes them.

Keywords: Identity, Latino, Hispanic

Topic(s):English

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 48-4
Location: VH 1432
Time: 2:00

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