LATINO AMERICANS is a three-part series that chronicles the lives and experiences of Latinos in the United States from 1800 to the 21st Century. Through its people, politics and culture, LATINO AMERICANS tells the story of early settlement, conquest and immigration; of tradition and reinvention; of anguish and celebration; and of the gradual construction of a new American identity from diverse sources that connects and empowers millions of people today.  The series utilizes historical accounts and personal experiences to vividly tell the history, featuring interviews with close to 100 Latinos from the worlds of politics, business and pop culture, as well as lesser-known Latinos who lived through key chapters in American history.

 LATINO AMERICANS premiered on September 17, September 24 and October 1 from 8:00 – 10:00pm ET nationally on PBS. The bilingual project includes a companion book by Ray Suarez, Senior Correspondent for PBS NEWSHOUR.

For more information on the series:

2013 Latino Graduation

Latino GraduationThe 2013 Latino Graduation Ceremony took place on Sunday, June 2 at the Carl A. Fields Center.  After remarks made by Joe Ramirez ’07, professor Miguel Centeno gave the Keynote Address.  Ballet Folklórico de Princeton also gave a special performance.

30 students participated in the graduation ceremony, including the 2013 LAO concentrators Leticia Garcia-Romo and Daria Dmitrievna Kolotiy. View pictures from the ceremony.

The event was co-sponsored by LAO, the Program in Latin American Studies, Carl A. Fields Center, Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Program in African American Studies, Program in Teacher Preparation, Program in Urban Studies, Program in Neuroscience, Program in American Studies, Department of Religion, Department of Chemistry, Program in Environmental Studies,

Who is Latino?

LAO Director Marta Tienda was recently interviewed by Carlos Lozada, Outlook editor of The Washington Post, for his recent article “Who is Latino?” published on June 21, 2013.

‘Shut up, you stupid Mexican!”

The words spewed from the mouth of a pale, freckle-faced boy, taunting me on our elementary school playground.

I wish I could recall what I said to inspire the insult. But more than three decades later, I remember only my reply. “Stupid Peruvian,” I pointed out, wagging my finger.

My family had emigrated from Lima to Northern California a few years earlier, so my nationality was a point of fact (whereas my stupidity remains a matter of opinion). The response so confused my classmate that my first encounter with prejudice ended as quickly as it started. Recess resumed.

Today, my grade-school preoccupation with nationality feels a bit quaint. Peruvian or Mexican — does it even matter? We’re all Latinos now.

Read more

Latinos and the Politics of Health Care

Latinos and the Politics of Health CareOn May 31, 2013 The Program in Latino Studies hosted our first Reunions Event, featuring talks by Ali Valenzuela, Douglas Massey and Patricia Fernández-Kelly. Below is the talk that Professor Fernández-Kelly gave.

I am honored to participate in this discussion which brings together top scholars in the field of immigration and Princeton alumni whose work and influence can be decisive both in terms of the instruction we provide to graduate and undergraduate students and with respect to the field of policy.  Princeton faculty and alumni have been, and can continue to be, a force for constructive change in the rationalization of our immigration system and in the provision of health care to vulnerable populations, including immigrants.

Immigration to America during the last half century has transformed the demographic profile and politics of the nation.  By 2008, Continue reading

‘Latinos and the Politics of Immigrattion Reform’

LAO-Reunions-Event-2013As part of the Latino Stud­ies Reunions Event on May 31, 2013 Pro­fes­sor Douglas Massey (Sociology) will speak about Latinos in contemporary America. Massey details his topic below:

            In 1970 the Latino population of the United States stood at around 9.6 million people.  They comprised just 4.7% of the U.S. population and 71% were native born.  Continue reading

“The Latino Vote”

As part of the Latino Studies Reunions Event on May 31, 2013 Professor Ali Valenzuela (Politics) will speak about the “Latino vote” in the 2012 election and its significance for the growing political power of Hispanics. More details about Valenzuela’s topic follows:

“Scientific Polling y el Voto Latino” — by
Ali A. Valenzuela  (Assistant Professor of Politics)

During the 2012 election, scientific polling and polling aggregators such as Nate Silver at The New York Times, Simon Jackman  at The Huffington Post, and our own Sam Wang at the Princeton Election Consortium entered the national consciousness like never before. Polling aggregators’ rise to prominence was due in part to the availability of massive amounts of state and national polling data, which the aggregators combined into sophisticated statistical models used to predict election outcomes in individual states as well as nationally. Several of the predictive models turned out to be highly accurate and immediately debunked claims of unfairly skewed polls favoring the Democrats that had been circulating in the weeks before Election Day. The polls did favor the Democrats, but that was because the Democrats were ahead in the presidential contest.

There are two important points in this conclusion. First, party identification – the level of support for the Democratic or Republican Party among the American public – changes from election-to-election, year-to-year and sometimes from poll-to-poll. Enthusiasm for the candidates, the state of the economy, and candidate positions on major policy issues like healthcare or U.S. military action abroad can all affect the proportion of Americans that identify as Democrats or as Republicans in a given poll. Just because a poll shows more Democrats or more Republicans than in the previous election does not mean that the poll is inaccurate. Second, scientific polling, and especially the combined average of many scientific polls, provides a very accurate snapshot of the level of support for a candidate in a national election. Scientific polling within states, and especially the average of many scientific polls within a state, provides a very accurate snapshot of state-levels of support for a candidate.

However, when it comes to polling Latino voters, many commercial firms do a poor job because of challenges and costs associated with interviewing voters in Spanish. For example, most polling firms employ a call back method in which, when they encounter a Spanish-speaker, they hang up and schedule a call-back with someone who can carry out the interview in Spanish. This has the effect of reducing response rates and the number of Spanish-only interviews that are successfully completed. Utilizing fully bilingual callers for Latino polling is expensive but necessary when upwards of 45% of the Latino electorate consistently prefers to interview in Spanish. This figure is among registered Latino voters who are all American citizens, to say nothing of the overall Latino population.

More critically, many polling firms, including the National Exit Poll, which interviews voters as they leave their voting places, do not interview in Spanish at all (more information). Exit Poll results are widely reported by the media, yet the effect of English-only interviewing is to bias results for Latinos towards those who are more acculturated: those who speak better English and live in wealthier parts of the country. Research consistently shows that more acculturated Latinos tend to hold more conservative policy attitudes and vote preferences more favorable to the Republican Party than among less acculturated Latinos. So polls that do not interview in Spanish, or that interview a lower-than-average proportion of Latinos who speak only Spanish, produce results that do not accurately reflect the Latino vote nationally or in states with a sizable Latino population.

The conservative bias of English-only Latino polling tends to produce results showing Republican candidates with more Latino support than in reality. In 2010, inaccurate Latino polling created a situation where Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) was predicted to lose his reelection bid for the U.S. Senate by a slight margin, but he instead won by 5.6 percentage points over his anti-immigrant challenger, Sharron Angle. Senator Reid won in large part because of the Latino vote, which supported his candidacy by a 90-8 margin, a huge gulf in Latino support between the two statewide candidates (more information). With Latinos representing about 12% of the Nevada electorate in 2010, their 82-point margin in favor of Reid translates into almost 10 additional percentage points for the Democratic win column, a figure greater than Reid’s margin of victory. Latino voters were pivotal to Harry Reid’s reelection and his return to the U.S. Senate as Majority Leader.

Fast-forward to 2012 and the crucial nature of the Latino vote repeated itself in at least four states: Colorado, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico. In these states, three of which were highly contested “swing” states (CO, FL and NV), Latinos’ level of support for President Obama was so much greater than their support for Governor Romney that they made the crucial difference in winning these states for the President. This outcome depended on two key factors: one, which I have already noted, is the large gap in Latino support between the Democratic and Republican candidates, an average difference of 54 percentage-points in these four states. Two, the Latino electorate in these four states—that part of the Latino population that was eligible and turned out to vote—was large enough to translate the gap in support between the two candidates into a substantial and pivotal vote contribution for a Democratic win. Without the Latino vote, and without such a wide margin of support for the Democrats among Latinos, it is unclear whether President Obama would have carried the day on November 6, 2012.

 How did we get to such overwhelming Democratic support among the Latino electorate? As recently as 2004 approximately 40% of Latino voters supported George W. Bush, a vote margin with then-Senator Kerry of only 20 percentage points (more information).  In my presentation, I will report more detailed Latino polling results from 2012 and discuss how we might understand such high levels of Democratic support among Latinos today.

¡Adelante! Latinos Reshaping America


On Friday, May 31, 2013 the Program in Latino Studies will host a Reunions Event for returning alumni from 3-4:30pm.  This event, “¡Adelante! Latinos Reshaping America”, will feature Ali Valenzuela (Assistant Professor of Politics), Douglas Massey (Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology), and Patricia Fernández-Kelly (Senior Lecturer in Sociology).  Marta Tienda (Director, LAO) will moderate, with opening remarks by Germán Lara (President of the Association of Latino Princeton Alumni).  This event is co-sponsored by ALPA.


Marta Tienda on “Diversity on Campus: Practices, Policies and Culture”


On December 13, 2012, Princeton hosted the conference “Diversity on Campus: Practices, Policies and Culture.” The purpose of the conference was to assemble leading scholars and academic administrators to exchange views about successful strategies for achieving diversity goals in higher education.  Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman and Provost Christopher Eisgruber each moderated panels.  Among the questions considered were: 

How can institutions maximize the educational benefits of diversity? How can institutions foster environments in which diverse populations–faculty, students, and staff–can flourish and how can institutional leadership facilitate these goals?

Professor Tienda participated in session 2; a panel discusion about creating a diverse campus. Videos of the panels can be seen here.

For a full description of the event, please visit the article in the Princeton Weekly Bulletin.

Meet the Librarian for Latin American, Iberian and Latino Studies!

Fernando Acosta-Rodriguez

Fernando Acosta-Rodríguez

Fernando Acosta-Rodríguez has been the Librarian for Latin American, Iberian and Latino Studies at Princeton University Library since 2003.  In addition to being responsible for the development of Princeton’s world class library collections from Latin America, Portugal and Spain, he oversees all collections and resources related to Latino Studies in Firestone Library.  A fundamental part of that responsibility is to assist Princeton’s students and faculty in the discovery and use of its vast library resources.  As such, Fernando welcomes all students in the Latino Studies Program to  contact or meet with him in person in Firestone.  He also invites all program affiliates to start exploring the Library’s vast resources through the online Latino Studies research guide that he created.

Fernando came to Princeton from The New York Public Library where he served as its Latin American Bibliographer starting in 1997.  He earned both his M.L.I.S. and his M.S. in Politics at the University of Texas at Austin.  In 2009-2010, he served as President of the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM), the international professional organization that groups librarians, book vendors, and other information professionals specializing in that part of the world.  He was the editor of the Papers of the 55th Annual Meeting of SALALM, a volume published in 2012 titled The Future of Latin American Library Collections and Research:  contributing and adapting to new trends in research libraries.

2012 Latino Heritage Month at Princeton University – By Silvana Alberti ’14

Latino Heritage Month (LHM) originated in 1968 in the form of National Hispanic Heritage Week. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan expanded the weeklong celebration to its current monthly length, beginning on September 15th and ending in October 15th. The month has the intention of recognizing and celebrating the presence and heritage of Hispanic and Latino Americans in the United States, as well as their contributions to the society and culture of the U.S. In line with this mission, several Latino groups on campus have made it their goal to share this celebration with the whole of the student population of Princeton University.

This year, the events that Acción Latina and Chicano Caucus -the two Latino groups participating in this year’s Latino Heritage Month Committee- organized were designed to maximize impact on the general population of university students, particularly those not cognizant or frequently engaged with the cultures in question. The celebration started on October 4th with the Latino Heritage Month Kickoff Event, at Campus Club. Senior Grecia Rivas (’13) opened the evening by reminding us of the importance of our Latin American heritage, and was followed by Ms. Tennille Haynes, the Director of the Carl A. Fields Center, who gave an inspiring speech about multiculturalism. We closed the night by dancing to the rhythm of Latin American music. 

For the first LHM week, we had a very engaging lunch discussion about the Latino and Latin American identity with Prof. Pedro Meira Monteiro (Oct 8th), and the student panel “Intersections of Race and Sexuality” (Oct 9th), an event where student leaders shared their personal experiences with this intersection, drawing distinctions and acknowledging similarities amongst different racial and ethnic groups. We also celebrated our Latino heritage at the Princeton University Art Museum; “Latinos at the Museum” (Oct 11th) included Mexican food and beverages, a special guest performance by Ballet Folklórico de Princeton, and a short themed tour of the Art of the Ancient Americas gallery. To close that week, we had a film screening of “Gun Hill Road”, followed by a talkback with Director Rashaad Ernesto Green (Oct 12th). 

 We started the following week’s celebrations with a Mexico vs El Salvador soccer match screening (Oct 16th), organized a “Latino Trivia Night!” (Oct 18th) in order to test our knowledge of Latino and Latin American geography, politics, music, arts and literature, and ended the week with an “Indoors Pickup Soccer” tournament at Dillon Gym (Oct 20th). Before fall break, we also encouraged everyone to go to the discussion organized “Latinos in the 2012 Elections: An Expert Discussion on Research and Politics.”

Finally, we closed the celebrations with a “LHM Variety Show” (Nov 9th), an event where performers from the Princeton Community gathered together to celebrate the Latino culture, dances and music; and a Closing Gala (Nov 10th), our final LHM event consisting of a Latin-American themed dinner catered by Taste of Mexico, followed by a dance party with the band Rumba con Son.