With Spanish surnames increasing five times faster than the general population, salsa is becoming the predominant ethnic rhythm of contemporary city life. The author of "Ecology of Fear" now focuses on the great drama of how Latinos are attempting to translate their urban demographic ascendancy into effective social power.With Spanish surnames increasing five times faster than the general population, salsa is becoming the predominant ethnic rhythm of contemporary city life. The author of "Ecology of Fear" now focuses on the great drama of how Latinos are attempting to translate their urban demographic ascendancy into effective social power.Read Less
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In this book Davis examines the far reaching changes in the US brought about by a massive influx of Latin American migrants during the last two decades. Pushed by Central American civil wars and the economic dislocations of Nafta, there has been a demographic sea - change in US urban centres where Latinos now constitute the largest minorities and come into conflict with economic and political structures consigning them to the bottom of the social pyramid, ' underneath the underdog' in the words of Charles Mingus. The survey Davis gives of their experiences in the US is unremittingly bleak:- economically trapped in low tech manufacturing, basic service and construction work at best, or else forced to rely on informal activities to survive; dismissed as educational failures; victims of daily racist violence and discrimination; and politically attacked by the anti-immigrant lobby. However the Latino insertion is not simply a passive one. Their have been extensive informal efforts to engage in urban renewal by Latino communities; and promising developments in building solidarity between Latinos and Blacks within the trade union movement around Los Angeles. Necessarily so, as the destructive alternative dynamic of competition between ethnic monioritires has been all too evident in urban big city politics of NYC, LA and Chicago. Davis also gives consideration to events south of the border. Here a novel process of transnational migration is underway, Mexican communities establishing a foothold on both sides of the border to secure their livelihoods through their seasonal labouring. Equally new are the socio-economic patterns and institutions in the maquiladora zone, where cross-border divisions of labour and urban infrastructures unfold to service this export processing, free trade enclave. In terms of political solutions, Davis places his hopes on the 'Latino - labour' alliance underway in the US. There is no parallel agency identified as operating on the Mexican side - a curious omission, insofar as Davis is familiar with the work of David Bacon, who has chronicled extensively the birth of a cross-border trade union movement and new independent forces in the Mexican labour movement. I would therefore recommend reading his book 'The Children of Nafta' as a complement to Davis's survey.
Publishers Weekly, 2000-05-15 SUNY sociologist Davis (Ecology of Fear, etc.) predicts that the many national origins denoted by the term "Latino" will become less distinct as U.S. Latino identity undergoes its own melting pot process through intermarriages between different Latino nationalities. The "cosmopolitan result is a rich, constantly evolving" Latino culture that may become a "new American counter-culture" or a "new hegemonic global culture." Because U.S. cities boast the most "diverse blendings of Latin American culture in the entire hemisphere," Davis foresees these metropolises reshaping "hemispheric as well as national U.S. identities." Much of this concise and insightful book explores not only cultural syncretism, but the practical aspects of a huge shift in American identity. Even if all immigration stopped short, Latinos would still be destined to become the largest "ethnic" group in the U.S. by mid-century because of their high fertility rate (for women born in Mexico, it is twice that of North American Anglo women) and the younger median age of the U.S. Latino population. Davis examines the "Dickensian underworld of day labor" in New York, the "interpenetration... of national temporalities, settlement forms, ecologies and levels of development" along la frontera (the borderlands), as well as the shifting realities of labor and lifestyles in the Midwest. He portrays all of this as an unfolding epic drama leading toward a "Latino metropolis that will... wear a proud union label," one in which equal opportunity in education and affirmative action policies will become myths of a long-gone 20th century. No matter the ethnicity of the reader, this is a disquieting book, not because of the demographic shifts Davis envisions, but because of the social upheaval that seems inevitable. (June) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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