Latino Studies Journal disappeared in 2001 to come back as T he Journal of Latino-Latin American Studies in 2003, the same year that Latino Studies was launched. Both journals focus on today's largest minority group in the US as globalisation continues to push national boundaries. Despite its relatively recent appearance, Latino Studies is already a required port of call for those interested in transnational migration and particularly Latino research. This is reflected in its move to publish four issues instead of three from this year onwards.
It began with what could have set it apart from other journals - a focus not only on original research but on forcing academic engagement with the studies being published by including in the same issue substantial "responses" to the articles selected. Unfortunately, the practice was diluted as early as in issue two of volume one, where not all articles had "responses", and disappeared from issue three onwards.
The original format was achieved by publishing excerpts from an academic dialogue initiated at a two-day conference in 2002. To follow the lead of the first issue would have had demanding editorial implications: the editors would have been forced to solicit responses to articles before they were published or to base the journal on the results of regular conferences. To judge from the first two issues, I would suggest that perhaps this practice should not only be encouraged but should be actively sought by giving priority to articles that engage critically or address, from different viewpoints, the topics being published.
At its inception, the journal stated that its principal aim was "to advance interdisciplinary scholarship about the lived experience and struggles of Latinas and Latinos for equity, representation and social justice", and asserted that "sustaining the tradition of activist scholarship of the founders of Chicana and Chicano studies and Puerto Rican studies", it would "critically engage the study of the local, national, transnational and hemispheric realities that continue to influence the Latina and Latino presence in the US".
After a reshuffle of the editorial board to form the international advisory board (which still has only three academics from outside the US or Puerto Rico), the editors said the journal aimed to fulfil not only its original objective but also to provide "an intellectual forum for innovative explorations and theorisation".
Issue three of volume two sets the new parameters by stating that the journal will publish scholarly research, periodic reports on curriculum developments and pedagogy and analyses of significant regional and local events. It also affirms that the journal "is committed to developing a new transnational research agenda that bridges the academic and non-academic worlds and fosters mutual learning and collaboration among all the Latino national groups". Clearly, this journal will be most useful to those in the humanities and the social sciences.
An important and unique section of the journal is " Vivencias : reports from the field", which is given priority over "Articles", as a tribute to Gloria AnzaldNoa. This section "aims to inform and analyse from an activist perspective, the challenging realities that Latinos/as confront in their daily lives at the local level". As the editor rightly observes: "These vivencias often escape the attention of, or are deliberately neglected by the national media, and hence remain unknown to the larger scholarly community..." This section gives credibility to the subjectivity expressed by minority groups.
The journal is US-centred, as the Latino community is, but this area of research must be expanded to Latino identity beyond the US and the Americas, which will no doubt include Latino reterritorialisation, an area yet to be studied. It can not only inform more global experiences but also share in the building of an identity forged "through both alliance and struggle", which is what Suzanne Oboler acknowledges for the different interactions that forge a Latino identity in the US. Pedro Cab n's opening article, "Moving from the margins to where? three decades of Latino/a studies", which outlines three institutional settings (enclave, transgressive and absorption), also has repercussions in European academia, where Latino studies is largely marginalised - part of the "absorption" he outlines. In this case, they become included in Hispanic, Latin American studies or English departments, when covered at all. Against this absorption, this journal is not only a welcome addition to any library but a must for anyone in the field.
Omar García-Obregón is lecturer in Hispanic studies, Queen Mary, University of London.
Editor - Suzanne Oboler
Publisher - Palgrave Macmillan
Price - Quarterly Institutions £255.00 Individuals £42.00
ISSN - 1476 3435 Online ISSN 1476 3443