Mexican Americans and the Question of Race

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9780292754010: Mexican Americans and the Question of Race

Honorable Mention, Oliver Cromwell Cox Book Award, presented by the Racial and Ethnic Minorities Section of the American Sociological Association, 2015

With Mexican Americans constituting a large and growing segment of U.S. society, their assimilation trajectory has become a constant source of debate. Some believe Mexican Americans are following the path of European immigrants toward full assimilation into whiteness, while others argue that they remain racialized as nonwhite. Drawing on extensive interviews with Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants in Texas, Dowling's research challenges common assumptions about what informs racial labeling for this population. Her interviews demonstrate that for Mexican Americans, racial ideology is key to how they assert their identities as either in or outside the bounds of whiteness. Emphasizing the link between racial ideology and racial identification, Dowling offers an insightful narrative that highlights the complex and highly contingent nature of racial identity.

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About the Author:

Julie A. Dowling is Associate Professor of Latina/Latino Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She coedited Governing Immigration Through Crime: A Reader.

Review:

"Dowling’s text is a much needed addition to and intervention in the conversation of Latino racial identification that should be required reading for Sociology of Race and Latino Studies courses." (Sociology of Race and Ethnicity Journal)

"Mexican Americans and the Question of Race makes an important contribution to the ongoing debates about race and immigration. Based on interviews in Texas, Julie A. Dowling shows us that even though many Mexican Americans identify as white when answering the Census, that does not mean they are necessarily considered white or assimilated or even understand themselves as such, despite the facile observations of some scholars.  Rather, self-identification as white in official statistics often involves a situational identity based on ideologies and discursive strategies regarding citizenship, aspirations and other non-phenotypical and non-cultural traits. For Mexican Americans and Latinos in general, race is clearly more complex than how it is traditionally understood in the United States." (Edward Telles, Professor of Sociology, Princeton University)

"No scholar of Latino racial identification or of contemporary race thinking in the U.S. more generally will want to miss this book. It is an eye-opening, subtle, and incisive brief that neatly debunks some popular assumptions and offers a compelling new account in their stead." (Ann Morning, Associate Professor of Sociology, New York University)

"I believe that this book is essential reading for an understanding of Mexican origin racial identity. Dowling’s qualitative approach sheds much-needed light on this central question in race relations. . . . Her conclusion about the centrality of racial ideology in racial self-identification among Latinos will become, I predict, standard in the field of Latina/o Studies." (Edward Murguía, Professor of Sociology, Texas A&M University, and author of Assimilation, Colonialism, and the Mexican American People)

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Dowling, Julie A.
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