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Research in Latinx Studies requires critical attention to the keywords you use--perhaps even more so than other fields.
People of Latin American, Spanish, and Portuguese descent in the United States are not a monolith. Therefore, no one term will ever fully capture the diversity of identities, ethnicities, nationalities, races, and experiences which are grouped under terms like "Latinx," "Latine," Latino/a," "Hispanic," and "Hispanic-American."
The very desire for one all-encompassing term to describe this diverse mix of people comes from academic, governmental, and activist impulses and strategies to identify labels for groups--despite the fact that many individuals within those groups do not use or prefer to describe themselves with those terms.
Here are some essential keywords to keep in mind, depending on the kinds of sources you are looking for:
|Latino, Latina, Latin@||Commonly used adjectives in books, book chapters, articles, and mass media that allow gender binaries of masculine (o), feminine (a) and masculine/feminine (@). Latino as an adjective reflects the acceptance of the -o ending in Spanish to describe a group of people that includes men, or as a default when gender is not specified. Latin@ is used to encompass masculine and feminine.||
Use a wildcard symbol like * to search for latin* or latin?s, depending on your database's preferenes
|Latinx, Latine||Latinx and Latine both reject the gender binaries of masculine/feminine to embrace gender neutrality. Latine is a more recent development that reflects a preference to use the "e" rather than "x" as a gender-neutral ending because it is easier to pronounce in speech. Both tend to be used in progressive and activist-leaning publications, whether academic or popular/mass media.||Either search Latin* with the wildcard, or use multiple terms (Latine OR Latinx) in your searches|
|Hispanic||Term used by the U.S. Government to collect census data, thus a common keyword in demography, politics and media. It is also a term that many use to self-identify, along with the Spanish hispano/s.|
|Hispanic-Americans||Key term to use when looking for books, since this continues to be the standard Library of Congress subject heading used to catalog books about Latines in the United States.||Learn more about LCSH from Wikipedia and how to use them to locate items|
|Chicano, Chicana, Chicanx, Chicane||Refers to Mexican-Americans, particularly in relation to activist movements of the 20th century.|
Afro-Latino, Afro-Latina, Afro-Latinx, Afro-Latine
|Terms used to describe people of African and Latin American descent. Not a Library of Congress subject heading.||Search also for African AND (Hispanic OR Latin*)|
|African-American, African-Americans||Library of Congress subject headings that may be used in combination with others for books about Afro-Latines.|
|Black, Blacks||Library of Congress subject headings that may be used in combination with others for books about Afro-Latines.|
|Puerto Rican, Puerto Ricans||Commonly used across publications, including Library of Congress subject headings. Also try boricua, which may appear in titles and texts, but not subject headings.|
Mexican-American, Mexican Americans
Hyphenated nationalities are commonly used across publications and in Library of Congress subject headings (often without the hyphen):
|Search for both hyphenated and non-hyphenated versions by using ("Mexican Americans" OR "Mexican-Americans") in your search|
Cubans -- United States
Mexicans -- United States
Venezuelans -- United States
Colombians -- United States
Try subject searches for nationality AND country when looking for academic resources.
|Use LibrarySearch to search with all or part of LCSH. Combine parts of subject headings with AND to find materials with both terms|
Thanks to Rachel Stein (Tulane) for allowing re-use of this table under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license.
The keywords that you type into any search box makes a difference, especially when finding academic or scholarly work.