Foreign Languages and Literature

 

Professor examines identity intersections

Daniel Enrique Pérez, assistant professor of Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies successfully published his book Rethinking Chicana/o and Latina/o Popular Culture.

Daniel Enrique Pérez, assistant professor of Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies successfully published his book Rethinking Chicana/o and Latina/o Popular Culture.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

By Elaine Casey

In December 2009, Daniel Enrique Pérez, assistant professor of Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at the University of Nevada, Reno, successfully published his book Rethinking Chicana/o and Latina/o Popular Culture (New York: Palgrave Macmillan). The book is part of a series associated with a larger project, the Future Minority Studies (FMS) research project, which Pérez described as “a mobile think tank that addresses issues of minority identity and social transformation.”

A member of FMS since 2006, Pérez said the group is now comprised of “scholars from all over the U.S. and abroad who are interested in different issues concerning the intersections of identity.”  He believes that intersectionality “is truly the future of minority studies.”
The Future Minority Studies book series examines a variety of issues related to several marginalized groups. Pérez’s work in particular looks at aspects of gender, race, ethnicity, beauty and sexuality in regards to identity, specifically in the spectrum of Latina/o and Chicana/o cultural production.

“My book speaks to the intersection of some of those identities,” Pérez said. “It’s probably more concerned about dismantling categories of identity.”

According to Pérez, there are a number of fixed categories that people tend to hold on to and try to keep separate from one another. People have a tendency to abide by binaries and try to fit others into one of two places. Through his research, Pérez does something rather new.

“A lot of these identities are proposed as being in diametrical opposition,” he said. “I think what may be unique about my book is that I’m looking at all of the spaces in between. I like to examine where those identities are more ambiguous in order to interrogate some of those fixed categories of identity.”

Similarly, Pérez looks at the way different aspects of identity intersect. Besides breaking down binaries, he illustrates the sites where ethnic identities intersect with gender- and sexuality-based identities.

“You can’t just separate fixed categories of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality. That’s not the way identities truly function,” he said. “Individuals always participate in and outside of various categories of identity, and there are also all of these grey areas in between.”

Through Pérez’s view, categories of identity often do not take into account the way that lived experiences shape identity. According to him, no two people can possibly have the exact same identity because no two people have exactly the same experience.

“I believe our identities are as unique as our fingerprints. Every person has a unique identity because identity shapes experience the way that experience shapes identity,” he said.

A lot of research went into this publication. Pérez used a variety of different theories, such as theory related to gender studies, queer studies, Chicana/o and Latina/o studies, and cultural studies, and applied them to texts, films, and other forms of cultural production created by Latinas/os.

“Throughout my book I’m drawing on theorists from all of those different areas and disciplines,” he said. “I’m examining how various representations of Chicanas/os and Latinas/os challenge all of those norms with respect to beauty, gender, sexuality, and ethnicity.  We are much more interesting and complex than the mainstream media allows us to be.”

To find out more about Perez’s book, go to: http://us.macmillan.com/rethinkingchicanaoandlatinaopopularculture

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Sepulveda appointed to American Latino Commission

Professor Emma Sepulveda Pulvirenti was one of 23 people in the country recently appointed to the National Museum of the American Latino Commission. Photo by Jean Dixon.

Professor Emma Sepulveda Pulvirenti was one of 23 people in the country recently appointed to the National Museum of the American Latino Commission. Photo by Jean Dixon.

Monday, October 12, 2009

By Claudene Wharton

University of Nevada, Reno Professor Emma Sepulveda Pulvirenti was one of 23 people in the country recently appointed to the National Museum of the American Latino Commission, as announced by The White House.

The Commission is tasked with studying the feasibility of, and creating a plan for, a new national museum in the nation’s capital that would be dedicated to portraying the art, history and culture of the Latino population of the United States.

The Commission members were appointed by President Obama and House and Senate leadership. Sepulveda was appointed by Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid.

“I can’t think of a more qualified individual for this commission than Dr. Sepulveda,” said Reid. “Dr. Sepulveda is an accomplished poet, writer and photographer and she has dedicated her life to work on behalf of Latinos in our state. Her professional expertise and her love for Hispanic culture and the community’s well-being, tell me she will represent Nevada well and do a wonderful job on the commission.”

In addition to the Commission appointment, Sepulveda will be one of two Hispanic women honored next month at the National Hispana Leadership Institute’s Mujer Awards Gala in Albuquerque.

As the premier executive leadership organization preparing Latinas for positions of national and international influence, the Institute pays tribute through its Mujer Awards to the achievements and contributions of exceptional Hispanic women who have served their communities. Sepulveda will receive the Regional Mujer Award.

“I am honored to represent Nevada and the University in such an important endeavor as the National Commission, and I am thankful to Senator Reid for giving me this unique opportunity,” Sepulveda said. “In regards to the Mujer Leadership Award, I am appreciative to be one of only two Latinas in the country to receive such recognition for the work that I have done on behalf of the Latino community.”

Sepulveda was born in Argentina, migrated to Chile, and then moved to the United States in 1974.
She was the first Latina to become full professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, of which she is also an alumna. She has authored or co-authored 22 books and is director of the University’s Latino Center.

Sepulveda has dedicated much of her work to educating non-Latino communities about the strengths and values of Latinos and immigrants who live in the United States. In 1995, she founded Latinos for Political Education, a nonprofit organization devoted to empowering Latinos through voter registration, voter education and get-out-the-vote programs.

“Professor Sepulveda has touched diverse communities throughout the world through her human rights activism and academic scholarship,” said Heather Hardy, Nevada’s College of Liberal Arts dean. “Her appointment to the national Commission and Mujer award are well-deserved honors and reflect the value of her work on a national and global level.”