Reel Latinas? Race, Gender, and Asymmetric Recognition in Contemporary Film

Politics, Groups, and Identities 1(2):181-198 (2013)

38 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2017

See all articles by Inés Valdez

Inés Valdez

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science

Date Written: March 27, 2013

Abstract

This paper argues that idealized portrayals of immigrants prevalent in political discourse must be scrutinized for their support of gender and racial nationalism and the effects they have on our understanding of (Latina/o) immigrant inclusion and democracy. Through the examination of three contemporary films with Latina leads — Real Women Have Curves, Spanglish, and Quinceañera, the paper argues that these discourses rely on an asymmetric recognition of Latina/os. This form of recognition involves the denial by dominant groups of their inter-dependency with other groups and the imposition on Latina/os an identity that does not threaten their privileged standing. The films offer views of Latina/o culture as overtly traditional; a “culture” that must either be abandoned or appropriated by anti-feminist (postfeminist) agendas in order to assuage anxieties regarding the transformations of the heteronormative middle-class family. The paper concludes by drawing parallels between the positive portrayals of Latinas in these films and prominent arguments in the immigration debate that rely on constructions of deserving immigrants to push for extensions of membership.

Keywords: Identity, Film, Gender, Migration, Latinidad

Suggested Citation

Valdez, Inés, Reel Latinas? Race, Gender, and Asymmetric Recognition in Contemporary Film (March 27, 2013). Politics, Groups, and Identities 1(2):181-198 (2013), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2941931

Inés Valdez (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science ( email )

Columbus, OH 43210
United States

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