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Latino Urban Ethnography and the Work of Elena Padilla

Latino Urban Ethnography and the Work of Elena Padilla

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Latino Urban Ethnography and the Work of Elena Padilla
    Book Description:

    This study reclaims and builds upon the classic work of anthropologist Elena Padilla in an effort to examine constructions of space and identity among Latinos. The volume includes an annotated edition of Padilla's 1947 University of Chicago master's thesis, "Puerto Rican Immigrants in New York and Chicago: A Study in Comparative Assimilation," which broke with traditional urban ethnographies and examined racial identities and interethnic relations. Weighing the importance of gender and the interplay of labor, residence, and social networks, Padilla examined the integration of Puerto Rican migrants into the social and cultural life of the larger community where they settled. Also included are four comparative and interdisciplinary original essays that foreground the significance of Padilla's early study about Latinos in Chicago. Contributors discuss the implications of her groundbreaking contributions to urban ethnographic traditions and to the development of Puerto Rican studies and Latina/o studies._x000B__x000B_Contributors are Nicholas De Genova, Zaire Zenit Dinzey-Flores, Elena Padilla, Ana Y. Ramos-Zayas, Merida M. Rúa, and Arlene Torres.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09026-4
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Mérida M. Rúa
  4. INTRODUCTION. At the Crossroads of Urban Ethnography and Puerto Rican Latinidad
    (pp. 1-22)
    Mérida M. Rúa and Arlene Torres

    Elena Padilla was at the crossroads as a scholar undertaking community studies in order to develop theories about social change in a rapidly changing urban landscape in the mid-twentieth century. She was asking questions about the utility of ethnographic method to address these very concerns experimenting with grounded theories and anthropological approaches—evinced in the Chicago- and New York–based studies. In her 1958 ethnography, Up from Puerto Rico, Padilla questioned if a positivistic approach, which entailed participant observation, would allow her to understand the Puerto Rican experience in East Harlem. Up from Puerto Rico was a community study that...

  5. PART 1 Puerto Rican Immigrants in New York and Chicago:: A Study in Comparative Assimilation

    • PROLOGUE. Looking Back and Thinking Forward
      (pp. 25-30)
      Elena Padilla

      The study comparing Puerto Ricans in Chicago with Puerto Ricans in New York was, in effect, an effort by a then young graduate student to find out if anthropological methods and techniques could be applied to learn how a population of migrants of common backgrounds (who for all practical socioeconomic and cultural purposes were immigrants) living in two different American cities differed or were similar to each other. The study was largely provoked by the works of William I. Thomas and Florian Znaniecki on Polish peasants in Europe and in the United States as well as by the Yankee City...

    • Preface
      (pp. 31-32)

      This study is about comparative acculturation and assimilation. It is an attempt to depict in general terms processes by means of which ethnic¹ groups become integrated into the social and cultural life of the larger communities where they settle, with particular reference to what has happened to some of the ethnics in American industrial communities. The basic problems of this study are, however, limited to the analyses of the main observable similarities and differences found between immigrants and ethnics who settle in “colonies,” in comparison to those who settle scattered along the larger American communities. The two-fold factors of “size...

    • CHAPTER ONE Acculturation and Assimilation
      (pp. 33-46)

      Present sociological knowledge on the phenomena and the implied processes undergone by ethnic groups in American communities has received a momentum through intensive accomplished research. The onset of scientific production along these lines was marked by the appearance of such classical works as W. I. Thomas and F. Znaniecki’s The Polish Peasant in Europe and in America¹ and R. E. Park and H. A. Miller’s Old World Traits Transplanted,² among others. More recently the application of modern anthropological methods and techniques as used by W. L. Warner and his associates in the study of ethnic groups in a New England...

    • CHAPTER TWO Methods
      (pp. 47-49)

      The materials used in this study were obtained by three different methods: (1) field work, (2) consultation of unpublished documents, and (3) consultation of the published literature.

      The material on the Puerto Rican immigrants in Chicago was obtained in the field through observation, participation, and the recording of verbalizations. Formal and informal interviews were an important aspect of this part of the research. In relation to the field work, a point to be discussed is that of the native investigator. The field material was collected by a native Puerto Rican who had lived in Chicago for about two years. This...

    • CHAPTER THREE Background of the Puerto Rican Migrants
      (pp. 50-66)

      The island of Puerto Rico is the smallest of the Greater Antilles with an area of 3,435 square miles. It lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea at a distance of 950 miles from the coast of Florida and 500 miles from the coast of Venezuela. Seismically the island is in the earthquake and hurricane belts. Climatically it is a tropical land. Its summer temperature averages eighty degrees Fahrenheit and its winter temperature averages seventy-six degrees Fahrenheit. Narrow alluvial plains skirt the island, and a range of central mountains runs through it from east to west. The highest...

    • CHAPTER FOUR The Puerto Rican Migrants in New York City
      (pp. 67-75)

      The picture presented by the Puerto Rican migrants in New York City is similar to that of other ethnic groups who have migrated to American industrial communities in search of better living conditions, as these are generally understood—by the acquisition of higher-paid jobs than in the homeland.

      The migration of the Puerto Rican to New York is another example of the old and never ceasing movement of people who hope to better their condition. It constitutes an important part of the well known and much larger movement of people to New York and other cities which has been taking...

    • CHAPTER FIVE The Puerto Rican Migrants in Chicago
      (pp. 76-96)

      This chapter summarizes data on the acculturation and assimilation of Puerto Rican migrants in Chicago. The story of the Puerto Ricans in this city is different from that presented by the Puerto Ricans in New York City in two ways: (1) the number of migrants, and (2) the trends in ecological distribution.

      The migration of Puerto Ricans to Chicago has been of two types, namely that which may be termed “an old migration,” and that which may be termed “a recent migration.”

      The “old migration” of Puerto Ricans to this city is composed of a scattered and reduced number of...

    • CHAPTER SIX Conclusions
      (pp. 97-102)

      The main problem of this study has been to analyze the processes of acculturation and assimilation with particular reference to the double factor of size of the immigrant group and its ecological distribution. The Puerto Rican immigrants in Chicago, who compose a scattered and reduced population, and the Puerto Rican immigrants in New York City, who compose a large population and are distributed in consolidated neighborhoods or a colony, were chosen for purposes of comparison.

      Data on both groups show that there is a correlation between the relative size of the immigrant group and its ecological distribution.

      Acculturation as a...

      (pp. 103-106)
  6. PART 2 Reflections on Puerto Rican Immigrants in New York and Chicago

    • Puerto Rican “Spatio-Temporal Rhythms” of Housing and Work
      (pp. 109-127)
      Zaire Zenit Dinzey-Flores

      Because Puerto Rico is located in the tropics, Puerto Ricans are deemed to be tropical people. They come from a tropical island of sea, sand, cool breezes, and plentiful fruit and have used the island’s fauna, topography, and geography to describe who they are and what they are like. It is no surprise, then, that in her 1947 master’s thesis that Elena Padilla included a geographical description of the island of Puerto Rico and the cities where Puerto Ricans resided. She not only described a mass of land but also provided an image, a portrait of livelihood and culture between...

    • Footnotes of Social Justice: Elena Padilla and Chicago Puerto Rican Communities
      (pp. 128-156)
      Mérida M. Rúa

      Trained by a historian, in an interdisciplinary doctoral program, I was accustomed to hearing “sometimes the story is in the footnotes.” Although reading footnotes was nothing new, I had never been fascinated by footnotes until I read and reread Elena Padilla’s 1947 University of Chicago master’s thesis, “Puerto Rican Immigrants in New York and Chicago: A Study in Comparative Assimilation.”¹ Scattered at the bottom of the pages in three separate chapters, these notes grabbed my attention:

      The data collected among the recent Puerto Rican migrants in Chicago were obtained in collaboration with Miss Muna Muñoz-Lee.

      Personal communication with Jesús Colón,...

    • “White” Puerto Rican Migrants, the Mexican Colony, “Americanization,” and Latino History
      (pp. 157-177)
      Nicholas De Genova

      It is one of the presumed functions of ethnography that it should produce a documentation of the present, so vividly descriptive that it can serve as an archive for a history of the present, as that present slips away and is inexorably consigned to the past. In the spirit of Walter Benjamin’s Sixth Thesis on the philosophy of history, this essay considers the historical moment depicted in Elena Padilla’s 1947 ethnographic thesis concerning the beginnings of Puerto Rican migration to Chicago.¹ In other words, this essay revisits Padilla’s discussion of Puerto Ricans in Chicago, not to recapture the past “the...

    • Gendering “Latino Public Intellectuals”: Personal Narratives in the Ethnography of Elena Padilla
      (pp. 178-206)
      Ana Y. Ramos-Zayas

      Academic discussions concerning the role of “public intellectuals” have proliferated in the last decade or so, especially among scholars of color.¹ These discussions have particularly considered the “crisis of black public intellectuals” in the United States.² Some scholars have argued that intellectuals no longer exist and that the end of the Cold War, the opening up of the mainly U.S. university to legions of scholars, the age of specialization, and the commercialization and commodification of everything in the newly globalized economy have simply done away with the public intellectual.³ Some scholars such as Russell Jacoby and Richard Posner, for instance,...

    (pp. 207-208)
  8. INDEX
    (pp. 209-215)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 216-217)