UNC Latina/o Studies Working Group, 2008 - 2009

Crossing Borders: Identity, Interpretation and Health


Dr. Deborah Bender, Clinical Professor, Health Policy and Management
Dr. Oswaldo Estrada, Assistant Professor, Romance Languages
John Ribó, Ph.D. Candidate, English and Comparative Literature
Ron Bilbao, Junior, Political Science

Overview of the Working Group’s Approach:

In the fall semester we laid out broad, national approaches to cross cultural identities prevalent in theoretical, literary and other cultural production on, of and by Latinas/os. We addressed questions such as what does it mean to be a Latina/o in the U.S.? How do we build our identity on the margins of various national, regional, racial, ethnic, gendered and sexed cultures within the United States and the Americas at large? How do we embrace our roots and ethnicity in academia? How do we acknowledge otherness? How do we deal with hybridity, misconceptions of ourselves, acculturation, and/or transculturation? We brought one national speaker, Santiago Vaquera, a Chicano creative writer and professor at the University of Iowa.  We also hosted Rey Andújar, Dominican actor, writer and performance artist, currently living and working in Puerto Rico.  The fall’s exploration of political, economic and psychological aspects of representations of Latinas/os in literary and other cultural production serves to introduce themes and problematics pertinent to local health care and education of Latinas/os.

During the spring semester we will focus the broad national, theoretical concerns, questions and ideas we addressed in the fall semester on the local experience of Latinas/os in North Carolina.  The general shift in focus will concentrate our attention on how economic inequalities, and linguistic and cultural challenges are brought to bear on prescriptive conceptions of “health” of and for Latinas/os in the public sphere.  We will address the importance of interpreters for Latinas/os navigating the public health system, learn from the experiences of a local general practitioner working with Latinas/os, and take a look at the experiences of Latina/o youth in local public schools. 


Summary of Past Meetings:

Fall 2008

August 28th, 2008
“Building Borders” – Organizational meeting

    1. Established meeting day and time
    2. Collected contact information for members of the working group
    3. Took suggestions for changes to schedule and reading list
    4. Discussed Juan Flores’ article “The Latino Imaginary: Meanings of Community and Identity” (Duke UP, 2004)

September 25th, 2008
“Addressing Identity and Citizenship” – Collaborative meeting

    1. Discussed an excerpt from Augusto Boal’s Teatro del oprimido (1980)
    2. Workshopped a critical essay by Ph.D. candidate in English and Comparative Literature, Melissa Birkhofer on Cherríe Moraga’s Heroes and Saints (1994)
    3. Held an open discussion on the topic of a possible center for Latina/o Studies on the UNC Chapel Hill campus

October 23rd, 2008
“Embracing Otherness”

    1. National Speaker, Santiago Vaquera-Vásquez presented to over 40 attendees in Saunders 220.
    2. Promotional posters and photos of event:


November 5th, 2008
“Voces sin fronteras/Voices without Borders”

    1. International Speaker, Rey Andújar presented to over 70 attendees in Toy Lounge of Dey Hall.
    2. Promotional posters and photos of event:


Tentative Schedule of Future Meetings for Spring 2009

Social and Economic Costs of 287-G Deportation Program in North Carolina

Being in Between English and Spanish: Interpreting in Health Care Settings

Latina/o Health: Perspectives of a Family Doctor

Making Sense of the Americas: Youth Perspectives on Identity


Suggested Readings:

Anzaldúa, Gloria. Borderlands / La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1987.

Barr, Donald A and Wanat, Stanley.  “Listening to Patients: Cultural and Linguistic Barriers to Health Care Access.”  Clinical Research and Methods.  37(3);199-204, 2005.

Bender, Deborah E., Harbour, Catherine, Thorp, John and & Morris, Peter.  “Tell Me What you Mean by ‘Si’: Perceptions of Quality of Prenatal Care Among Immigrant Latina Women.” Qualitative Health Research. 11(6); 780-794, 2001.

Bhabha, Homi K. The Location of Culture. London y New York: Routledge, 1994.

Darder, Antonia and Rodolfo D. Torres, eds. The Latino Studies Reader: Culture, Economy, and Society. Malden, Mass: Blackwell Publishers, 1998.

Dzidzienyo, Anani and Suzanne Oboler, eds. Neither Enemies nor Friends: Latinos, Blacks, Afro-Latinos. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

Flores, Glenn. “The Impact of Medical Interpreter Services on the Quality of Health Care: A Systematic Review.”  Medical Care Research and Review. 62(3); 255-299, 2005

García Canclini, Néstor. Culturas híbridas. Estrategias para entrar y salir de la modernidad. México: Grijalbo, 2001.

Guerra, Carmen E. Krumholz, Megan and Shea, Judy A. “Literacy and Knowledge, Attitudes and Behavior about Mammography in Latinas.”  Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. 16(152-166; 2005.

Mirabal, Nancy Raquel and Agustin Laó-Montes. Technofuturos: Critical Interventions in Latina/o studies. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2007.

Morris, Stephen D. Gringolandia. Mexican Identity and Perceptions of the United States. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005.

Nikelly, Arthur G. “Cultural Babel: The Challenge of Immigrants to the Helping Professions.” Cultural Diversity and Mental Health. 3(4);221-233, 1997.

Paz, Octavio. El laberinto de la soledad. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1999.

Poblete Juan, ed. Critical Latin American and Latino Studies. Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 2003.

Rivero, Eliana. “Latinounidenses: identidad, cultura, textos.” Revista Iberoamericana 71 (2005): 711-29.

Said, Edward. Reflections on Exile and Other Essays. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard UP, 2002.

Saldívar, José David. The Dialectics of Our America. Genealogy, Cultural Critique, and Literary History. Durham y London: Duke UP, 1991.

Smokowski, Paul R, Bacallao, Martica L. “Acculturation, internalizing mental health symptoms, and self-esteem: Cultural experiences of Latino adolescents in North Carolina.”  Child Psychiatry & Human Development.  Volume: 37    Issue: 3    Pages: 273-292, 2007. 

Schelling, Vivian. “Popular Culture in Latin America.” The Cambridge Companion to Modern Latin American Culture. Ed. John King. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2004. 171-201.

Valencia, Elvia Y., Johnson, Valerie.  “Latino Students in North Carolina - Acculturation, perceptions of school environment, and academic aspirations.” Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences.28(3); 350-367, 2006.