Ilan Stavans and Jorge J. E. GarciaThirteen Ways of Looking At Latino Art

Duke University Press, 2014

by David-James Gonzales on September 30, 2015

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As demographic trends continue to mark the so-called "Latinization" of the U.S., pundits across various media outlets struggle to understand the economic, cultural, and political implications of this reality. In popular discourse, Latinoas/os are often referred to as a monolithic group in terms of cultural practices, voting patterns, and consumer preferences. Of course, Latinas/os are one of the most diverse ethnic groups in the U.S., comprising more than 14 nationalities (including indigenous groups) with variances in language, cultural practices, and political attitudes that mirror their geographic distribution. In Thirteen Ways of Looking At Latino Art (Duke University Press, 2014) the accomplished essayist and cultural commentator Ilan Stavans enters into conversation with the distinguished philosopher Jorge J.E. Gracia around 13 pieces of Latina/o art in order to excavate the underpinnings of Latina/o identity and culture. Each work of art provides the impetus for lively exchanges between Stavans and Gracia over the purpose and politics of historical representation, artistic expression, ethno-racial identification, ethics, and religion. Written in an engaging dialogic form, the reader is permitted to listen in as Stavans and Gracia reflect (and at time disagree) over the meanings and significance of each art piece to the broader Latina/o experience.

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