MCLR - 1994 Roundtable


Presented By:

Jim Escalante, University of Wisconsin-Madison


The Latino Midwest experience has yet to be defined - especially in the arts and literature. For example, while well-known individual artists have emerged, there is no established and widely-known corpus of work that can yield a sample of classic literature that focuses on the Midwest Latino experience. A first step is the identifcation and collection of Latino source materials for the study and teaching of oral history, music, ethnography, poetry, and literature. Even at this early point in the development of the field of Latino Studies, it is evident that interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches will be required to conceptualize the field and to evaluate and work its sources.

The state of research on Latinos in the Midwest is closely related to the conditions of professional development for Latino scholars. The study Latino issues was not an option in graduate school for many of the participants in this group who were directed to specialize in more established areas of research. Some scholars rationalized to themselves that they would study what was accepted as graduate students and then turn to their own research preferences when they became faculty, only to discover that Latino research is not an acceptable path to tenure.


Research on Latinos in the Midwest can be promoted in the following ways:

  • Identification and collection of source materials for the study and teaching of the Latino experience in the Midwest.

  • Promotion of Latino Studies as a legitimate field of research.

  • Creation of a Latino visual and performance arts traveling exhibit that will educate the institutional and general publics on the merits of thcse arts, highlight their importance and relevance to the national culture, and assist in creating a higher level of respectability and acceptance.

  • Creation of a mobile library of slides and other audiovisual materials that can be circulated throughout the Midwest.

  • Documentation of the Midwest Latino experience as distinct from those in other regions, particularly through oral histories and film. The Midwest is a region wherethe intermixing of the different Latino, Latin American, and non-Latino cultures has a much higher incidence than in the Southwest, West or East.

  • Exploration of legal mechanisms and strategies in support of Latino arts.
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    Last Updated: March 11, 1996