2022 Honorable Mention, John Leo & Dana Heller Award for Best Single Work, Anthology, Multi-Authored, or Edited Book in LGBTQ Studies, Popular Culture Association (PCA) 2023 Honorable Mention, Outstanding Book, Latinx Studies Section of Latin American Studies Association (LASA)
This study argues that powerful authorities and institutions exploit the ambiguity of Latinidad in ways that obscure inequalities in the United States.
Is Latinidad a racial or an ethnic designation? Both? Neither? The increasing recognition of diversity within Latinx communities and the well-known story of shifting census designations have cast doubt on the idea that Latinidad is a race, akin to white or Black. And the mainstream media constantly cover the “browning" of the United States, as though the racial character of Latinidad were self-evident.
Many scholars have argued that the uncertainty surrounding Latinidad is emancipatory: by queering race—by upsetting assumptions about categories of human difference—Latinidad destabilizes the architecture of oppression. But Laura Grappo is less sanguine. She draws on case studies including the San Antonio Four (Latinas who were wrongfully accused of child sex abuse); the football star Aaron Hernandez's incarceration and suicide; Lorena Bobbitt, the headline-grabbing Ecuadorian domestic-abuse survivor; and controversies over the racial identities of public Latinx figures to show how media institutions and state authorities deploy the ambiguities of Latinidad in ways that mystify the sources of Latinx political and economic disadvantage. With Latinidad always in a state of flux, it is all too easy for the powerful to conjure whatever phantoms serve their interests.
Laura Grappo is an assistant professor in the American studies department at Wesleyan University.
What a book! Laura Grappo’s Conjured Bodies is the tour de force Latinx cultural studies has been waiting for. Original and elegantly written, Grappo’s book is set to shift conversations on the politics of race and sexuality in Latinx media studies, queer studies, and critical ethnic studies. With a stunning archive that takes popular media representations seriously as invaluable source material for scholarship, there is no other book quite like it.
~Richard T. Rodriguez, UC Riverside, author of A Kiss across the Ocean: Transatlantic Intimacies of British Post-Punk and US Latinidad
[Conjured Bodies] provides an accessible and significant exploration of the construct of race in the U.S. Grappo’s book provides an insightful and engaging discussion of the importance of understanding both the value and danger of malleability...Grappo’s book provides thought provoking and gripping arguments about the possible consequences, harms, and issues of conjured identities, images, and bodies that is well positioned in current explorations of intersectionality...a necessary read for any serious student and scholar of Latinidad.
~Ethnic and Racial Studies
Conjured Bodies expands the understanding of the politics of race and sexuality within Latinidad—the notion of a shared Latin American identity—by introducing readers to the concepts of Latinx ambiguity and queer racialization...Conjured Bodies is a vital addition to mainstream media research within Latinx studies, media studies, queer studies, and critical ethnic studies…Highly recommended.
Conjured Bodies is an impactful study that opens conversations on spectrality and racial categorizations, allowing scholars in Latinx studies, gender studies, LGBTQ+ studies, media studies, carceral studies, and hauntology to build on the author’s interdisciplinary research.
~Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies
Introduction. “The browning of America”: Conjured Bodies and Queer Racialization
Chapter 1. “This could be Satanic-related”: Fantasies of Innocence and Criminalization in the Case of the San Antonio Four
Chapter 2. “A life is worth more than a penis”: Lorena (Gallo) Bobbitt and the Domestication of Abuse
Chapter 3. “A troubled, battered mind”: The Queer Lives and Deaths of Aaron Hernandez, 1989–2017
Chapter 4. “Who’s going to tell Sammy Sosa he is Afro-Latino?”: Transraciality and Panethnic Latinx Authenticity
Conclusion. “Feeling brown”: Conjuring Latinidad, Here and Now
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