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Title: Latinidad in London : an ethnographic study exploring how Latin American Londoners represent their ethnic community discursively
Author: Kelsall, Sophie
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis investigates how Londoners who migrated from Latin America - especially Colombia - represent their ethnic community discursively. It examines how the notion of latinidad is articulated in relation to local and global cultural narratives, and how the London Latino community is constructed strategically and hierarchically. It is guided by a social constructionist perspective and an interpretive approach. It draws on ethnographic research involving fifteen months of participant-observation at a Latin American complementary school, multiple encounters with three families, and twenty-five semi-structured interviews with adolescents and parents. This study argues that there are pressures and incentives for the London Latino community to essentialise strategically, and to maximise the appeal of community heritage to non-group members, so as to gain recognition, resources, and popularity. Tensions arise when families in and outside the community seek to acquire linguistic heritage - Spanish - for pragmatic reasons, and when they do not see speaking Spanish as necessary for authenticating ethnic membership. This study also finds that Latinas are associated with attractiveness, beautification, and seduction. Practices linked to appearance and dancing are seen as respectable or as excessive, and are coded in terms of aspiration, thus reflecting processes of stratification. Overall, this thesis finds that latinidad is mediated through linguistic, embodied, and gendered practices. These are evaluated according to the forms of social and cultural capital they are perceived as facilitating. The transnational dimension of trajectories and ideologies is an important factor in shaping discourses of latinidad, especially in accounting for the contingent exchange value of these semiotic practices. This study problematises the idea of ’Latin American community’ and operationalizes the concept of latinidad in the London context. It contributes to understanding how language and gender ideologies are lived and are open to negotiation among migrants and their descendents in a global city.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available