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Latino Metropolis

2000
Authors:

Victor M. Valle and Rodolfo D. Torres
Foreword by Saskia Sassen

Latino Metropolis

A readable look at culture and politics in Los Angeles through a Latino lens.

Los Angeles: scratch the surface of the city’s image as a rich mosaic of multinational cultures and a grittier truth emerges-its huge, shimmering economy was built on the backs of largely Latino immigrants and still depends on them. This book exposes the underside of the development and restructuring that have turned Los Angeles into a global city, and in doing so it reveals the ways in which ideas about ethnicity-Latino identity itself-are implicated and elaborated in the process.

A truly pathbreaking work that puts Latinos where they belong: in the center of debate about the future of the U.S. big city.

Mike Davis, author of Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster and Magical Urbanism: Latinos Reinvent the U.S. Big City

Los Angeles: scratch the surface of the city’s image as a rich mosaic of multinational cultures and a grittier truth emerges-its huge, shimmering economy was built on the backs of largely Latino immigrants and still depends on them. This book exposes the underside of the development and restructuring that have turned Los Angeles into a global city, and in doing so it reveals the ways in which ideas about ethnicity-Latino identity itself-are implicated and elaborated in the process. A penetrating analysis of the social, economic, cultural, and political consequences of the growth of the Latino working-class populations in Los Angeles, Latino Metropolis is also a nuanced account of the complex links between political economy and the social construction of ethnicity.

Lifting examples from recent news stories, political encounters, and cultural events, the authors demonstrate how narratives about Latinos are used to maintain the status quo-particularly the existing power grid-in the city. In media representations of riots, in the recasting (and "whitening") of Mexican food as Spanish-American cuisine, in the community displacement that occurred as part of the development of the Staples Center-in telling instances large and small, we see how Los Angeles and its Latino population are mutually transforming. And we see how an old Latino politics of "racial" identity is inevitably giving way to a new politics of class.

Combining political and economic insight with trenchant social and cultural analysis, this work offers the clearest statement to date of how ethnicity and class intersect in defining racialized social relations in the contemporary metropolis.

Globalization and Community Series, volume 7
Translation Inquiries: University of Minnesota Press

Latino Metropolis

Victor M. Valle is associate professor of ethnic studies at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Rodolfo D. Torres is associate professor of education at the University of California, Irvine, where he teaches social policy and urban political economy.

Latino Metropolis

A truly pathbreaking work that puts Latinos where they belong: in the center of debate about the future of the U.S. big city.

Mike Davis, author of Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster and Magical Urbanism: Latinos Reinvent the U.S. Big City

Latino Metropolis offers a fascinating tour of Los Angeles as a battleground for a war of cultural and political representation. An excellent collection of interesting narratives that uncovers the multiple roles of class and ethnicity in the economic and cultural construction of Los Angeles.

Latin American Research Review

The authors have taken careful observations and measurements of the political, economic and social factors that affect the Latino population, ranging from the globalization of the Southern California economy to the shrinkage in housing, schools and social services. Caught among these seemingly blind and irresistible forces, however, are human beings, and the authors issue a dire warning that we ignore the poor and disempowered among us at our own peril. Clearly, Latino Metropolis seeks to hold us all to the very highest standards when it comes to understanding and honoring the Latino traditions of California and accommodating the urgent needs of its growing Latino population. And the fact is that its verbal pyrotechnics serve their intended purpose-the authors manage to catch and hold our attention with the occasional verbal blow, and then they deliver a sober (and sobering) lecture on the hard realities of multiculturalism.

Los Angeles Times

Latino Metropolis is a significant work of scholarship on Los Angeles and Latinos that puts the political economy back into academic and public discourse. The authors’ detailed descriptions, insightful analysis, and identification of ‘strategic opportunities’ for change make the book a must read for scholars, community activists, and policy makers concerned with city building and community organizing.

New Political Science

Pointing out that Latinos are the fastest-growing sector of the working-class in the United States, the authors argue that modern-day Los Angeles has become a sort of mini-South Africa, where new laws (like Proposition 187, which denies suspected illegal immigrants access to publicly funded social services) have rendered the residents of Central L. A. politically invisible even as the city depends on them to sustain its economy.

Publishers Weekly

Valle and Torres challenge existing methodologies of defining urban society in terms of race, calling for the construction of a new urban politics based on the commonalities of culture and class. Providing a micro-level analysis of Los Angeles, the authors demonstrate how the city and its neighbors function as private wealth-producing machines without giving money back to the communities whose workers make that revenue possible. They use examples from recent news stories, political encounters, and cultural events to make their case that Latinos are used to maintain the existing power structure and can change things only by understanding and strengthening their global political options. While the book focuses exclusively on the dynamics in Los Angeles (e.g., globalization, immigration, and politics), its argument can be extrapolated to analyze conditions of Latinos in cities across the United States.

Library Journal

A truly important work. Theoretically innovative, cross-disciplinary in nature and written in a committed, punchy style, Valle and Torres bring to the fore the key part played by Latino migrants in the transformation of Los Angeles into a global city.

Ethnic and Racial Studies

Latino Metropolis analyzes several half-hidden dimensions of Latinos’ role in the political economy and class relations in Los Angeles. Most chapters stand alone as penetrating examinations of a particular political, cultural, or economic feature within the class context.

Journal of American Ethnic History

A welcome addition to research on Latinos, particularly for those interested in economics, politics, ethnicity, and postmodern cities.

Urban Affairs Review

The authors are challenging us to understand Los Angeles in a new way, the book is worth the effort.

Journal of American History

This book is an exemplar of what research on culture, place, and globalization should be.

Journal of Historical Geography

Valle and Torres provide a critical look at the intersection of labor, capital, city building, and the hopes for constructing a “third way” in the struggle for economic democracy in a city. Los Angeles provides an excellent case study of the larger urban, ethnic, and class dynamics of globalization.

Hispanic Outlook

Latino Metropolis offers a fascinating tour of Los Angeles as a battleground for a war of cultural and political representation. An excellent collection of interesting narratives that uncovers the multiple roles of class and ethnicity in the economic and cultural construction of Los Angeles.

Latin American Research Review

Valle and Torez provide an interesting analysis of how local political institutions might shape Latino political strategies.

Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science

Latino Metropolis

Contents

Foreword
Saskia Sassen
Acknowledgments

Introduction

1. Economic Geography of Latino Los Angeles
2. "Policing" Race: The Media's Representation of the Los Angeles Riots
3. Mexican Cuisine: Food as Culture
4. Contesting "Showtime": Latino Leaders in Downtown Development
5. Significant Space: Public Areas in the Greater Eastside
6. Class and Culture Wars in the New Latino Politics

Notes
Bibliography
Index