Colour codes

DEC Latining AmericaLatining America: Black-Brown Passages and the Coloring of Latino/a Studies
Claudia Milian
2013, University of Georgia Press
288 pages, paperback

LATINO identity has become a complex and dense theme in US academic study that has spawned its own grammar and specialisms, and nowhere is this more evident than in Claudia Milian’s book which takes a novel – if difficult – journey into the way meaning is attributed to this socio-culturally loaded term and its many derivatives. In essence, Milian identifies a commonality of “Latinidades” based upon the ways Central Americans, Dominican Americans, Chicanos and Chicanas have negotiated the racialised colour lines of the US. This challenges recognisable US notions of the Latino/Latino and moves these categories away from an ideological comfort zone hitherto determined by nationalism. Here “Latinities” may belong to categories more accurately defined by blackness and brownness, perhaps a more realistic way of assessing discourse but one that greatly complicates existing notions of multiculturalism by revealing what it is that is making such identities so fluid.