Academic Minute
12:46 pm
Thu May 5, 2011

Dr. Richard Gioioso, Purchase College SUNY - Cuban-American Identity

Albany, NY – In today's Academic Minute, Dr. Richard Gioioso of SUNY's Purchase College discusses a coming shift in the self identification of Cuban-Americans.

Richard N. Gioioso is a visiting lecturer of sociology and anthropology at Purchase College-State University of New York. His work blends the fields of urban geography, Latino studies, and ethnic politics. His dissertation, entitled Placing Immigrant Incorporation: Identity, Trust, and Civic Engagement in Little Havana, Miami, examines the assimilation of Latin American immigrants and their offspring in the neighborhood setting from an interdisciplinary perspective.

He has collaborated on various research projects funded by diverse agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the Federal Judicial Center, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation. He received his Ph.D. in International Relations from Florida International University in Miami, Florida in August 2010.

Dr. Richard Gioioso - Cuban-American Identity

Concerns over immigration have ebbed and flowed since the founding of this country. Whether immigrants from Latin America desire -- or are able -- to assimilate into mainstream U.S. culture has become a hot button issue in recent years and the subject of bitter political debates.

I studied racial and ethnic identity assimilation among Latin American immigrants in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood through a project funded by the National Science Foundation. Not surprisingly, those who move to this country as teens or adults continue to identify with their country of origin, even after years here. However, the use of hyphenated labels, such as Cuban-American, signals the blending of cultures and identities.

We also found that Little Havanans are actively challenging the strict racial categories accepted in the United States, and are instead opting for a panethnic label - Latino or Hispanic - because while in this country, their identity as Latinos trumps other racial and ethnic categories.

If these findings are at all indicative of what is happening among other Latin American immigrants and their offspring across the country, my guess is that by the 2020 Census, we will see a notable shift in the way that race is conceived of and recorded: Latino/Hispanic will be a new addition to the current list of American racial categories.

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