Over the past decade, much attention has been given to examining the growing political influence of Latinos in the United States in order to define the so-called "Latino vote." The idea of the existence of a coherent Latino vote or political agenda (encompassing the interests of various ethnic groups of Latin-American origin and known as civic Latinidad) is, as this book shows, not only highly debatable, but possibly politically unviable. Beltran's book
is the first comprehensive critique of civic Latinidad and the Latino electoral and protest politics that work to erase political diversity and debate in favor of images of political and cultural unity.
Situated at the intersection of political theory and Latino studies, Beltran's book analyzes the practices, perceptions, and assumptions that shape how Latinos in the United States articulate their quest for political power and influence. The book looks at three key moments in U.S. Latino political history: the Chicano and Puerto Rican civil rights movements of the late 1960s; the emergence of Latinos as a pan-ethnic voting bloc in the 1980s; and the recent political activism surrounding
illegal immigration. To this, Beltran applies political theory to analyze the relationship among participatory democracy, public speech, and racial identification and to link the study of Latino politics to the larger question of how subjects are made capable of collective action. The Trouble with Unity
draws upon a diverse range of political, feminist, and cultural theorists to challenge the very existence of a coherent "Latino" political agenda with a pre-existing set of "Latino interests" that can be found and defended.
"Cristina Beltrán's powerful book, The Trouble with Unity is timely for our age of Obama in which an ugly anti-immigrant spirit looms large. Don't miss it!" --Cornel West, Princeton University
"In her lucid account of the complexities of identity politics, Cristina Beltrán analyzes U.S. Latino efforts to forge a unified political community, persuasively arguing that unity-based politics can provide spaces for meaningful political action but too often minimizes major differences. The Trouble with Unity is an informative, balanced, and unusually thoughtful contribution." --Rogers M. Smith, Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor
of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania
"Many have looked at the growth of Latino political identity from a purely empirical perspective. This work, however, tries to understand how Latino-ness is performed and understood in the public sphere, the growth and nature of pan-ethnic identity, and how disparate individuals come together to see themselves as a political interest. Cristina Beltrán's book is a work of theory built off of a careful historical examination of practice and is a major
contribution." --Gary Segura, Professor of Political Science and Chair of Chicana/o Studies, Stanford University
"This book makes an original and centrally important contribution by using categories of political theory to analyze the ways in which 'Latinos' have thought about their political identities. It will become essential reading for those interested in how political theorists can contribute to the rethinking of race and ethnicity." --Joan Tronto, Professor of Political Theory, University of Minnesota
"A sophisticated analysis of social justice in the Latino community.... useful for general readership and all undergraduate work on Latino studies in the US.... Recommended." --CHOICE
"The idea of applying political theory to movement politics is certainly unusual, but Beltrán deftly weaves together empirical observation with normative insight in ways that allow us to see the dangers and promises of identity-based political movements." --Perspectives on Politics
"[P]ioneering... systematically dismantles outmoded political discourses in favor of emergent, negotiated, more complex coalitions of Latino solidarity." --Contemporary Sociology
"[A] dazzling reading of Latino politics... One of the signal achievements of The Trouble with Unity is its capacity to vivify the political value and limitations of theoretical canons, old and new. If Beltran's argument stimulates conversation across disciplinary boundaries and takes democratic theory to places where it has not typically wanted to go, she also offers a forceful reminder of why political theorists return to hallowed texts. The Trouble with
Unity puts political theorists on notice: the construction of Latino identity [is] not [a] specialty subject. [It is] democratic theory."--Political Theory
"In this pioneering work of social theory, Cristina Beltrán applies thought to the contemporary predicament of 'Latinos,' that portion of the U.S. population which is of Latin American origin or social identity." --Contemporary Sociology
Introduction: Sleeping Giants and Demographic Floods: Latinos and the Politics of Emergence
1. El Pueblo Unido: Visions of Unity in the Chicano and Puerto Rican Movements
2. The Incomplete and Agonistic "We": Reading Latinidad into Democratic Theory
3. "The Bacchanalia of the Political": Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the Dream of Latino Identification
4. From Identification to Representation: Civic Latinidad and the Making of "the Latino Vote."
5. Labor, Action, and the Space of Appearance: Immigrant Embodiment and the Problem of Freedom
Conclusion: Latino Is a Verb: Democracy, Latinidad, and the Creation of the Political