Back to top

Sunbelt Diaspora

Sunbelt Diaspora
Race, Class, and Latino Politics in Puerto Rican Orlando

An in-depth look at an emerging Latino presence in Orlando, Florida, where Puerto Ricans and others navigate differences of race, class, and place of origin in their struggle for social, economic, and political belonging.

Series: Historia USA

April 2020
Add to cart
320 pages | 6 x 9 | 3 charts/graphs |

Puerto Ricans make up half of Orlando-area Latinos, arriving from Puerto Rico as well as from other long-established diaspora communities to a place where Latino politics has long been about Cubans in Miami. Together with other Latinos from multiple places, Puerto Ricans bring diverse experiences of race and class to this Sunbelt city. Tracing the emergence of the Puerto Rican and Latino presence in Orlando from the 1940s through an ethnographic moment of twenty-first-century electoral redistricting, Sunbelt Diaspora provides a timely prism for viewing how differences of race, class, and place play out in struggles to claim political, social, and economic ground for Latinos.

Drawing on over a decade of ethnographic, oral history, and archival research, Patricia Silver situates her findings in Orlando’s historically black-white racial landscape, post-1960s claims to “color-blindness,” and neoliberal celebrations of individualism. Through the voices of diverse participants, Silver brings anthropological attention to the question of how social difference affects collective identification and political practice. Sunbelt Diaspora asks what constitutes community and how criteria for membership and legitimate representation are negotiated.

  • List of Maps, Tables, and Charts
  • Preface. For Orlando Readers
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction. Race, Class, Place, and Politics in a New Puerto Rican Diaspora
  • Part I. Puerto Rican Orlando
    • Chapter 1. Between Black and White: Geography, Demography, and Political Place
    • Chapter 2. Hidden Histories in the New Orlando: Colonial Migrations, Color-Blind Multiculturalism, and Natural Neoliberalism
  • Part II. Difference and the Incompleteness of Political Community Formation
    • Chapter 3. “You Don’t Look Puerto Rican”: Race, Class, and Memories of Place in Orlando
    • Chapter 4. Enough Is Enough: Memory, Political Formations, and Participatory Citizenship
    • Chapter 5. “This Building Is Our Island”: Seen and Unseen in Orlando
  • Part III. The Case of Redistricting in Orange County, Florida
    • Chapter 6. Divided by Beans: Difference and Political Community Formation
    • Chapter 7. Four Districts for Americans: Mapping Community in Orange County
  • Conclusion. Navigating Ambiguity in the Interests of Community
  • Epilogue. “Things Will Be Different Now”
  • Appendix. Oral History Collections and Orange County Board of County Commissioners Proceedings
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index

Patricia Silver
New York, New York

Patricia Silver is an anthropologist affiliated with the National Coalition of Independent Scholars. For more than a decade, she has conducted ethnographic, oral history, and archival research about Puerto Rican experiences in Orlando, with an emphasis on sociocultural heterogeneity and collective identification. Silver holds a PhD in cultural anthropology from American University. She has published her findings in numerous academic journals and authored expert testimony as part of a 2014 federal case against Orange County, Florida, for diluting the Latino vote during redistricting.


“Silver offers a groundbreaking perspective on the recent social history and politics of [Orlando] by unravelling the dynamics of race, class and place-making in the development of a heterogeneous community...The true value of this book is its ability to scrutinize the unseen sociopolitical realities that shape Puerto Ricans and other Latinxs’ efforts for community organization and political participation in this new place. Silver has made an impressive contribution to fields of Latinx migration and politics by focusing on the recent history of the understudied area of central Florida. Researchers, students, and a wider audience will be fully satisfied with the vivid life histories of this well-written book.”
The Independent Scholar

“Patricia Silver displays an intimate and extensive knowledge of her topic, having conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Orlando, Puerto Rico, and New York. She moves from the historical background of Orlando as a “Sunbelt City,” to tracing the origins of the Puerto Rican exodus after World War II to the present day, while focusing on the emergence of a large but marginalized community that doesn’t fit well within the established fault lines of race and class.”
Jorge Duany, Director of the Cuban Research Institute, author of Puerto Rico: What Everyone Needs to Know


Available for Kindle
Available on Google Play
Available on Kobo
Available for Nook
Available on the Apple Store

This book may also be available on the following library platforms; check with your local library:
3M Cloud Library/bibliotheca