Subido por Eduard Alberto Arriaga

Reimagining US Colombianidades

Latino Studies (2020) 18:301–325
Reimagining US Colombianidades: Transnational
subjectivities, cultural expressions, and political
Lina Rincón1 · Johana Londoño2 · Jennifer Harford Vargas3 ·
María Elena Cepeda4
Published online: 3 August 2020
© Springer Nature Limited 2020
On 2 February 2020, while we were in the process of composing this introduction,
more than a hundred million global television viewers witnessed perhaps the most
hotly discussed Latina/o/x live musical event since the electrifying 1999 Grammy
performance of “Livin’ La Vida Loca” by Puerto Rican entertainer Ricky Martin.
The Latinidad on display in 2020 was distinctly female, Colombian, and Puerto
Rican: Shakira and Jennifer Lopez headlined the Super Bowl halftime show, making
them the first two Latinas in history to perform on it together. Juxtaposed against the
racial tensions of the post–Colin Kaepernick National Football League; white middle-class viewers’ concerns about the ostensibly “vulgar” spectacle of two unapologetically sexy and talented Latinas; critiques regarding the show’s centering of white
Latinidad1; and the rampant anti-Latina/o/x sentiment of the Trump era, the 2020
We note here the strong critiques of the show’s privileging of Latina/o/x whiteness that quickly
emerged from Latina scholars, such as Petra Rivera-Rideau (2020), who questioned the effectiveness of
the artists’ calls for Latina/o/x unity within a context in which only a small fraction of the community
was racially represented, and Zaire Dinzey-Flores (2020), who stated, “I’d suggest that the performance
exhibits the seduction of whiteness and the continual ability for non-Black Latinas/os/xs to imagine a
world where Blackness is part and parcel of their community and not a root or influence.”
* Lina Rincón
[email protected]
Johana Londoño
[email protected]
Jennifer Harford Vargas
[email protected]
María Elena Cepeda
[email protected]
Framingham State University, Framingham, USA
University at Albany, SUNY, Albany, USA
Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, USA
Williams College, Williamstown, USA
L. Rincón et al.
halftime show offered many insights into the fundamental nature of US Colombianidades. It was, we argue, a critical moment in the potential rebranding of Colombian
identity in the global popular imagination, in which US Colombians and Latina/o/xs
become central, not peripheral, to the collective celebrations and histories of US cultural touchstones such as the Superbowl, as problematic as they may be.
Together, Lopez and Shakira underscore the inherently relational, dynamic character of Latinidad. When read comparatively, we can note the more overt and legible
political stances adopted by Lopez in her performance (such as her use of the Puerto
Rican flag; the sampling of Bruce Springsteen’s classic “Born in the USA,” which
was performed by children emerging from prop cages that evoked the detention of
migrant children, led by Lopez’s own daughter; and her exhortation for “Latinos” to
“get loud” against respectability politics) in contradistinction to Shakira’s less legible identity markers and physical postures (the incorporation of various uniquely
Colombian and specifically costeña/o/x musical genres and references2; Barranquilla
carnival culture and the inclusion of the zaghrouta and other markers of diasporic
Lebanese identity; and the use of Colombian backup dancers and Colombian reggaetón megastar J. Balvin). As a Puerto Rican from the Bronx and as a member
of a much larger, more visible, and historically established Latina/o/x community,
Jennifer Lopez’s relationship to Latinidad is unquestioned. In contrast, the Colombian-born Shakira, and the US Colombianidades she was associated with on that
emblematic stage of US sport culture,3 is hyper-visible yet unseen in her complexity
and specificity because of a dominant global imaginary regarding Colombians that
is limited to images of Juan Valdés coffee, drugs, masculinist violence, corruption,
war, and normatively beautiful women.
Some Latina/o/x viewers critiqued the traces of Colombianidad recognizable in
the spectacle (especially of Shakira’s light-skinned body) as yet another instance
of a white-presenting South American celebrity employed to market and signify a racially diverse US Latinidad, while key aspects of her performance, such
as the Colombian and costeña/o/x facets, were unreadable to many, including other
Latina/o/xs. One example of the illegibility that surfaced in public responses to Shakira’s performance was the erroneous reading of the high-pitched, warbling cry (otherwise known in the Arab world as a zaghrouta) that she released at a key point in
the show. Many viewers interpreted the sonic gesture, captured in an endless series
“Costeño, “costeña” or the less commonly used “costeñx” are the colloquial referents for the natives of
Colombia’s northern Caribbean coast, popularly known as “La Costa.” We assert here as well as later on
in this introduction that the need to familiarize oneself with the specificities of Colombian regionalisms
in order to fully capture the subtleties of Shakira’s performance highlights the saliency of regionalized
perspectives within studies of transnational Colombian culture. Moreover, by designating Shakira’s performance as more subdued, we do not wish to suggest that Shakira’s performative choices were somehow less “political,” but rather that they were more coded and therefore ostensibly less recognizable to
non-Colombian viewers. For a distinctly US Colombiana perspective on the show, see Varela Rodríguez
We use “US Colombian” and not “Colombian American” because we agree with scholars who have
pointed out that adding “American” to the nation of origin or region (i.e., Colombian American or Central American American) plays into the US co-optation of the term “American” and because it is also
redundant, since Colombia is in the Americas (Oboler 1995; Gruesz 2007).
Reimagining US Colombianidades: Transnational…
of memes picturing Shakira with her tongue out and peering into the camera, as a
form of sexual display. Those familiar with Colombian regional cultures, however,
quickly recognized the zaghrouta as emblematic of Shakira’s deep roots in the large
Lebanese-origin population of Barranquilla, the largest city of the country’s northern Caribbean coast (see Barron 2020; Celis 2012; Cepeda 2003, 2008, 2010; Fuchs
2007; Gontovnik 2010; Iskandar 2003). We attribute this particular instance of
misrecognition on the part of viewers as evidence of the enduring power of hypersexualized imagery and its historic association with Latina and gendered, racialized
bodies in general.4 Some public reaction to Shakira’s performance also reignited
stereotypes about US Colombianidades and US South Americans in general, such
as the notions that they uniformly enjoy class privilege, are white, and are “new”
migrants mostly categorized as Latin Americans. While this may be true of Shakira,
it is not true of all US Colombians. Moreover, as María Elena Cepeda (2003, 2010)
has argued, Shakira’s Latinidad underscores—though rarely is acknowledged as
such—the centrality of transnational ties in any consideration of the dynamic relationship between the categories of “Latina/o/x” and “Latin American.”
These popular interpretations of Shakira’s performance in the Super Bowl emphasize the ways that US Colombians are simultaneously hyper-visible yet unseen in
US society, which powerfully resonates with the ideas and vision that motivate this
special issue. This special issue moves beyond and at times challenges dominant
assumptions about Colombians: that they are a “new” group in the US; that they
are an “other” within the broader Latina/o/x imaginary; that Colombians (and South
Americans in general) are more privileged middle- and upper-class migrants; and
that the community can be comprehensively understood through the paradigms of
narco-trafficking and hypersexualized femininity. We believe that the extant frameworks for understanding the US Colombian experience do not fully account for the
distinct intricacies of Colombian diasporic lives. At this fruitful cultural, historical
and political moment, we therefore invite scholars to explore the central thematics,
analytical lenses, and driving preoccupations of US Colombianidades within a resolutely interdisciplinary, transnational, and relational Latina/o/x studies framework.
Our vision for this special issue arose out of an interdisciplinary symposium
organized by the US Colombianx Editorial Collective (comprising María Elena
Cepeda, Jennifer Harford Vargas, Johana Londoño, John Mckiernan-González,
Michelle Nasser De La Torre, and Ariana Ochoa Camacho) at Williams College in
October 2017. Twenty-seven scholars from US colleges and universities and Colombia- and US-based community groups gathered to present research on an array of
topics including US Colombian artists, US electoral politics, Colombian diasporic
novelists, Colombian global cultural productions, US Colombian communities, US
tourists in Colombia, and Colombian beauty pageants in the United States, among
Shakira thus constitutes a vivid example of how, as Jesús Estrada asserts, hypervisibility frequently
decontextualizes Latina bodies (Jesús Estrada, personal communication with María Elena Cepeda, 3 May
2020). Moreover, Shakira is best understood as a diasporic subject two times over (Cepeda 2003, 2010):
she is the daughter of two migrants and a migrant herself, a specific positionality frequently witnessed in
Colombia’s Caribbean port cities, yet one that may also go mis- or unrecognized in studies of US Colombianidades that fail to account for regional and transnational perspectives.
ic for the
n tradition
that sees
nal roots
(nonblack) as
to the
L. Rincón et al.
others. All the articles for this special issue were presented and workshopped at the
symposium or at a number of panels on US Colombianidades we have organized
at the last two Latina/o Studies Association conferences and at the last two annual
meetings of the American Studies Association. Through this sustained collaboration
across multiple disciplines, we have begun to build the interdisciplinary subfield of
US Colombian studies, and we view this special issue as an integral part of imagining the futures of US Colombianidades. This special issue foregrounds overlooked
instances of Colombianidades in the United States and centers US Colombian community formations, transnational imaginaries, media representations, involvement
in electoral politics, and queer activism in relation to other (not “other”) Latina/o/xs.
In thinking of US Colombians alongside Latina/o/xs of multiple national, racial,
gender, sexual, and socioeconomic identities, we collectively unveil the uniquely
Colombian stories that have shaped and continue to shape Latina/o/x cultures, politics, and lives. Our goal for this introduction and for all of the articles included
herein is to contribute to an interdisciplinary archive of US Colombian scholarship,
to intentionally deploy citational politics in the service of helping scholars pursue
research on US Colombianidades, and to provide readers with a sense of the various experiences and narratives of Colombianidad. The archive of references, texts,
and examples we offer in this special issue is not exhaustive; rather, it is a selective
offering and an opening for future work. Our hope is that we can move beyond the
currently delimited and limiting vision of Colombians toward a richer, more complex understanding of US Colombianidades in all its plurality, contradictions, and
transnational and intra-ethnic complexities.
In the sections that follow, we illustrate how the presence of Colombians in the
US has been characterized by the same tension between invisibility and hypervisibility that we observed in public commentary regarding Shakira’s appearance in
the Super Bowl. We then discuss the impacts of Colombia’s political history and of
its regional dynamics and trace the transhistorical presence of Colombians in the
US to contextualize their nuanced transnational experience. Finally, we lay out our
vision for centering US Colombian studies within the parameters of Latinidad and
the larger field of Latina/o/x studies.
Contesting representational paradigms
The relative paucity of published materials on US Colombians has prompted
specialists in the field to become adept scholars in the histories, cultural production, and politics of other Latina/o/x national-origin populations in order to better understand the contexts that shape the US Colombian community. The study
of diasporic Colombians necessitates a relational approach vis-à-vis other Latinidades, while it simultaneously demands careful attention to place (Londoño
2016) and a transnational scope (Cepeda 2003, 2010; Harford Vargas 2017b;
Porras Contreras 2017). As our introduction and each of our contributors to this
special issue demonstrate, US Colombian studies is relational, local, and transnational in orientation, driven both by the norms of Latina/o/x studies as it has
Reimagining US Colombianidades: Transnational…
developed as well as by the unique demographic characteristics of US Colombians and Colombia’s historic relationship to the United States.
US Colombians have been an understudied group in the field of Latina/o/x
studies, erroneously depicted as “new” or “other” Latinos. The language positing “new” and “other” Latina/o/xs is both historically inaccurate (Colombians
have been in the US since at least the nineteenth century) and limiting. Built into
the field of Latina/o/x studies is a critique of normative postures and categories;
therefore, it is necessary to contest the norms that are subtly, even if unintentionally, invoked and reinscribed with the use of “other”/“new” Latina/o/xs. Moreover, the idea of being an “other” Latina/o/x is based on the presumed norm of the
triumvirate national-origin populations in the field—Chicana/o/x/Mexican American, Puerto Rican, and US Cuban. These three groups and their distinct migration histories and sociopolitical relationships to the US have shaped the historical
development of the field of Latina/o/x studies and are often understood based on
their own national-origin specificity (Aparicio 2017, 2019). More recent studies
of previously understudied national-origin groups, such as US Dominican studies, and regional studies, such as US Central American studies, have expanded
Latina/o/x studies. Our attention to US Colombianidades parallels and intersects
with these recent field expansions, and this special issue is our call for the field to
understand US Colombians in their own right.
As US Colombian academics invested in the study of the Colombian diaspora
and its cultural production, political dynamics, and ethnographic particularities, we
are keenly aware of how a general lack of knowledge about the Colombian diaspora among US- and Latin America–based academics reflects the manner in which
hierarchies of knowledge and beliefs about what is “worth knowing” are shaped by
financial considerations and other institutional objectives, themselves molded by
ideology (Lippi-Green 2012, p. 283). The recent publication of the text Latina/o
Studies (2018) by Ronald L. Mize, designed as a brief introduction to Latina/o/x
studies, proves a case in point. Unlike other texts in the same vein, Mize includes
a discussion of US South American studies, although it totals less than one page.
He attributes US South American studies’ lack of visibility to several nebulous factors, most notably the South American diaspora’s failure to embody Latinidades in
the quotidian context. As such, the illegibility of US South American studies more
broadly, and US Colombian studies more specifically, is associated with a nebulous
communal deficit model. Moreover, Mize includes no consideration of the actual
structural issues affecting knowledge production, encompassing issues such as
ingrained Colombian communal norms regarding “proper” career paths (read, not
an ethnic studies professor); the pervasive desconfianza (mistrust) within Colombian
diasporic communities born of the narco-trafficking stigma and generalized violence
in Colombia (Guarnizo et al. 1999; Guarnizo and Espitia 2007), which has led to
a lack of communal cohesion; and the difficulty in obtaining institutional funding
to conduct transnational fieldwork in a country deemed too “dangerous” by those
outside of the field. Mize also provides no citations of the existing literature on US
Colombians, giving the impression that no such publications exist. In his superficial
recognition of the field, Mize thereby ultimately unwittingly erases South American
L. Rincón et al.
identities, enacting the very epistemological violence that the inclusion of the paragraph on US South American studies was likely intended to contest.5
The politics of recognition in the neoliberal academy demands that, in order to
be recognized within current Latina/o/x studies, subfields must be “re-cognized,”
or (re)fashioned in the image of existing—and thereby legible—academic cultural
scripts (Cardenas 2017, p. 87). Not only does the “other”/“new” Latina/o/x label
historically decontextualizes US Colombian presence, it also leads many faculty and
administrators—including those in Latina/o/x studies—to believe that, since our
numbers must be few, there is not a pressing need to teach the subfield, much less
hire diasporic Colombians. This fetishization of demographics as razón de ser is a
key element driving the invisibility of US Colombian studies within the hierarchies
of worth that define Latina/o/x studies. It is from within this charged context, or
the ongoing institutionalization of Latina/o/x studies within US neoliberal systems
of higher education, that we posit that the study of US Colombianidades facilitates
a much-needed aperture in the existing Latina/o/x studies canon, particularly at a
political moment marked by a global rise in xenophobia and ethno-nationalisms.
An estimated five million Colombians live abroad, or approximately one-tenth
of the country’s population.6 According to the 2010 United States census and a
2013 Pew Research Center estimate, between one million to 1.1 million of these
individuals live in the United States, a figure that almost certainly represents an
underestimate (LaRosa and Mejía 2017, p. 216). Indeed, Ochoa Camacho employs
an amalgam of Colombian and US data to determine that, by the year 2020, the US
will be home to approximately 2.2 million individuals of Colombian origin (Ochoa
Camacho 2016, pp. 167, 168).7 Sixty percent of the contemporary US Colombian
community is foreign-born, and 40% is “established,” or has lived in the United
States for more than 20 years. Fifty-six percent of US Colombians are US citizens
(a figure that has grown since the opportunity to hold dual citizenship was enshrined
in Colombian law in 1991), but roughly 40% of the population is undocumented
(Cepeda 2010; Ochoa Camacho 2016, p. 168); and, as recently as 2000, Colombians constituted the fourth-largest undocumented population in the US (Guarnizo and
Falconi and Mazzotti’s edited book The Other Latinos: Central and South Americans in the United
States 2008) similarly includes only brief data on Colombians in the United States. Other scholars have
attended to US Colombians under the framework of US South American studies (Oboler 2005a, b, and
Heredia 2013, 2018). A more robust development of US South American studies remains to be developed in Latina/o/x studies, and our hope is that our study of US Colombians will further the development
of this national-origin subfield and of a regional US South American subfield.
As LaRosa and Mejía note in their commentary on Colombians abroad, we should consider this figure
while keeping in mind that, in other highly populated South American nations such as Argentina, a little
more than one million citizens live abroad, or roughly 2% of Argentina’s forty-four million residents. For
further comparison, only slightly more than 2% of US residents live outside the nation’s political boundaries (LaRosa and Mejía 2017, p. 215).
See Cepeda (2010) and Ochoa Camacho (2016) for further discussion of this persistent undercounting and its attendant consequences. Cepeda (2010) and Ochoa Camacho (2016) rely on various sources
for their data because errors in the US Census have repeatedly resulted in a very inaccurate count of the
US Colombian population. Unfortunately, the 2010 US Census and more recent studies, such as those
released by the PEW Research Center (2017, 2019) and the Migration Policy Institute (2015, 2017,
2018), still appear to underestimate the number of US Colombians. For a comprehensive wave-based
overview of Colombian migration to the United States, see Cepeda (2010).
Reimagining US Colombianidades: Transnational…
Espitia 2007, p. 375). Although the New York metro area and specifically Queens
have historically been the areas most closely associated with the Colombian diaspora, 33% of US Colombians now live in Florida, where their numbers are second
only to those of US Cubans in terms of population size in major urban centers like
Miami, which has emerged in recent years as the primary locus of studies of the
Colombian diaspora alongside New York (see Avivi, this issue). Other significant
sites of Colombian diasporic settlement include northern New Jersey, California
(primarily Los Angeles), Boston, Houston, New Orleans and, more recently, Atlanta.
Outside these spaces, the US Colombian diaspora remains notably geographically
dispersed, a factor that can be accounted for by the gradual nature of Colombian
settlement in the United States (with the exception of periods such as the 1990s and
early 2000s, when violence tied to the civil conflict markedly increased in Colombia
and drove out-migration) and by the impact of drug-trafficking stereotypes on intraColombian communal cohesion (LaRosa and Mejía 2017, p. 216; Guarnizo et al.
Although we are tempted to assert that Colombians are an important national-origin group to consider in Latina/o/x studies because they are the largest population of
South American origin in the United States, we are wary of making a demographic
argument for their inclusion. Demographics, or the capitalistic assumption that “in
order to count one must be counted,” also deeply informs the intellectual hierarchies
of worth in Latina/o/x studies. In an analogous case, Cardenas observes,
Using demographics as a justification for representation has also been
deployed as a form of silencing. … The labels constantly attached to Central
Americans such as “recent immigrants” or “other Latinos” is one that is often
explained by their demographic presence within the US’s social ordering of
minority subjects. Demographics are also used to explain why Latino studies
must almost exclusively focus on certain larger or historical communities in
the US. (Cardenas 2017, p. 92).
In this sense, the invisibility of US Colombians in current demographic data indicates the urgency of imparting the experiences of those whom “we don’t see” or
“can’t see.” Demographic presence does not explain, for example, experiences of
soledad, as discussed by Ariana Ochoa Camacho in this issue, or the auto-ethnographic rendering of Latina feminist media recognition included in María Elena
Cepeda’s article in this volume. At the same time, we recognize the importance of
demographics for understanding the experience of US Colombians. In this issue, for
example, Angie N. Ocampo and Angela X. Ocampo compiled data from six different national datasets to construct the first nationally representative sample of US
Colombians in order to understand the political attitudes of US Colombians during
the 2016 presidential election. Their analysis brings light to the crucial importance
of class and racial dynamics, as well as US Colombians’ transnational experience, as
catalysts of divergent political leanings and experiences.
When not ignored, recognized very briefly, or categorized as “new” or “other,”
Colombians are often depicted in stereotypes, most particularly in exaggerated
gender roles along a hyperfeminine and hypermasculine heteronormative binary.
As scholars such as Cepeda (2003, 2008, 2010, 2018, 2019, forthcoming), Nasser
L. Rincón et al.
(2012), Nasser De La Torre (2013), Schaeffer (2012) and Porras Contreras (2017)
have traced, in the US popular imagination Colombianidad is persistently filtered
through gendered, sexualized imagery, as the ubiquitous figures of Sofía Vergara,
Shakira, Kalis Uchis, and Colombian beauty queens underscore. These feminized
representations are starkly juxtaposed against the images of masculinist violence,
corruption, and illicit drug activity that mark the other half of the Colombian representational binary. The narco genre and the accompanying stereotype of Colombians
as drug lords and drug smugglers has been widely pervasive in the US from the
1980s to the present in films and television shows such as Scarface (1983), Miami
Vice (1984–1990), Clear and Present Danger (1994), Blow (2001), Maria Full of
Grace (2004), Colombiana (2011), and Narcos (2015–present), to name just a few.
But the most salient and pervasive example of this in the narco genre is the Pablo
Escobar narrative, a mediated rendering of Colombia mired in the dramatically violent period during the 1980s and 1990s marked by the rise and spectacular fall of
the narcotics kingpin. Informed by the discursive stylings of a heavily commodified
magical realism, the cultural industry built around the Escobar narrative is a source
of distress and resentment for Colombians around the globe, yet the endless accumulation of tell-all books, films, and television series rooted in it provide a significant
source of capital for many. Significantly, this stereotypical association of Colombia with drug lords and drug smuggling has emerged from within as well as from
without the transnational Colombian community (Cepeda forthcoming, 2018, 2019;
Harford Vargas 2019; Herrero-Olaizola 2007; Nasser 2008; Ochoa Camacho 2016;
Pobutsky 2013, 2017, 2020). Cultural scripts such as the sexy Colombian female
and ruthless male Colombian narco-trafficker narrative act as epistemological disciplinary mechanisms that diminish our understanding of US Colombianidades and
delimit the possibilities of US Colombian studies in the academy and beyond. This
special issue seeks to contest the predominant yet severely limited representational
frameworks that mark US Colombianidades, just as it simultaneously addresses the
relative invisibility of US Colombians within the broader contours of Latina/o/x
studies. Indeed, Yamil Avivi’s essay in this special issue interrogates this invisibility, in its vivid account of the asylum process for Miami-based transsexual Colombian Andrés that provokes valuable questions regarding the heterosexist, first world
orientation of US immigration law and scholarly accounts of migratory populations.
Archiving the transhistorical presence of Colombians in the United
For a population commonly, though inaccurately, described as “new” arrivals to the
United States, US Colombians appear scattered across space and time in various
books, cultural texts, and social movements, and often immersed among long-standing Latina/o/x communities. It may come as a surprise to learn that the first documented Spanish-language US Latina/o/x novel on the theme of immigration, Lucas
Guevara, was written in 1914 by Alirio Díaz Guerra, a well-heeled Colombian exile
living in New York City (Kanellos and Hernández 2003; Torres-Saillant 2007). The
1961 film West Side Story, an icon of Puerto Rican representation in popular media,
Reimagining US Colombianidades: Transnational…
denounced for having only one Puerto Rican actor in its cast, Rita Moreno, had, it
turns out, two Latina/o/x actors: José De Vega Jr., born in San Diego to a Colombian mother and a Filipino father, played Chino in the film (Fojas 2014, p. 140).8 At
the height of Puerto Rican struggles for space in 1960s New York City, Colombian
Edmundo Facini led Barrio Nuevo, an organization that challenged urban expansion
plans (Aponte-Pares 1998, p. 413). Colombians at the time also joined the Young
Lords Party (Morales and Oliver-Velez 2010, p. xi). Meanwhile, José Julio Sarria, a
Colombian Nicaraguan Californian, is believed to have been the first drag performer
and gay rights advocate to run for public office in the United States, in 1961. Sarria,
known as the “first Empress of San Francisco,” founded what eventually became
The International Court System, a North American organization for gay men, crossdressers, and drag queens (Erickson-Schroth 2014, p. 514). Colombians have also
been elected officials in US politics since at least the 1990s, if not earlier (Cepeda
2010). Colombians in the United States cannot be labeled as “new” when their stories are tied to, and constitutive of, the histories, cultures, politics, and communities
of some of the most legendary eras, populations, and spaces in Latina/o/x studies.
By the same measure, the ordinary lives of thousands of Colombian immigrants and
refugees who have arrived since the early twentieth century to pursue middle-class
professions and/or work for low wages in factories, agriculture, and service industries in Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode
Island, for example, cannot be considered “new” when they have helped, alongside
existing Latina/o/x populations, boost local economies and emerging Latina/o/x
communities. Indeed, Colombians have a long, rich, and variegated historical and
cultural presence in the United States that merits further study.
Moreover, US Colombian cultural production is flourishing, with a number of
recent authors and artists emerging on the scene in the last few years and with US
Colombian actresses and actors gaining more prominent roles in recent years. We
provide a robust list of writers, artists, and actors in order to make visible these
achievements and to provide Latina/o/x studies scholars with an array of US Colombians they can incorporate into their courses and consider as they develop their
research projects. US Colombian writers include Jaime Manrique, Tatiana de la
Tierra, Patricia Engel, Daisy Hernández, Sergio de la Pava, James Cañón, Silvana
Paternostro, Ingrid Rojas Contreras, Anika Fajardo, Melissa Lozada-Oliva, Grisel
Acosta, Julianne Pachico, Mary Angélica Molina, Diane Guerrero, Rosa Boshier,
and Juliana Delgado Lopera, who work across genres and move between fiction,
memoir, and nonfiction. As exemplified by Daisy Hernández’s epigraph to A Cup
of Water Under My Bed (2014), which references Chicana writer Sandra Cisneros
querying, “What does a woman inherit/that tells her how/to go?,” these authors figure US Colombianidades in dialogue with traditional Latina/o/x literary tropes. At
the same time, their writings are often shot through with references to or scenes set
under the civil war in Colombia, making their representations of US imperialism
and state support of right-wing counterinsurgency forces similar to representations
US Colombianas also have starring roles in the new versions of West Side Story: Yesenia Ayla is playing Anita in the Broadway revival, while Rachel Zegler will play Maria in the Hollywood remake.
L. Rincón et al.
of the Cold War, militarization, and dictatorship by Latina/o/x novelists and artists
of a number of different national origins. They simultaneously also differ because
US Colombian literary production is not post-conflict, whereas the work of their
Latina/o/x contemporaries is post-dictatorship (see Harford Vargas 2017a; Ortíz
2016; Vigil 2014). Though scholars have studied some of this literary production,
and Catalina Esguerra in this special issue analyzes Patricia Engel’s Vida (2010),
evocatively demonstrating how Engel provides a dynamic vision of diaspora as a
condition in process formalized in the novel’s scattered story structure, most of it
remains to be substantively examined, underscoring the need for a more comprehensive study of US Colombian literature as a whole.
Contemporary US Colombian artists, like the writers, exhibit visual imaginations that share the concerns of their Latina/o/x counterparts, especially in relation
to shifting anti-immigrant discourses, interrogating systems of oppression, and celebrating Colombianidades, Latinidades, and folks of color more generally. Jessica
Sabogal became nationally visible while collaborating with Amplifier’s “We the
People” posters for the Women’s March following the 2017 Trump inauguration by
producing the “We the Indivisible” and “Women Are Perfect” pieces that celebrated
queer Latina/x love and Afro-Latinidad while the muralist GLeo painted “The Original Dream” across grain silos in Wichita, breaking the world record for the largest single-artist mural and celebrating Latinidades in the Midwest in vivid tones on
a grand scale. Michelle Angela Ortíz has monumentalized undocumented migrants
who have been detained and deported through her murals, site installations, and documentaries, and Mónica Enríquez-Enríquez has used video installations to capture
the experiences of queer migrants and asylum seekers. From Fanny Sanin’s geometric abstracts and Diana Restrepo’s abstract paintings of disrupted territories to Sandra Parra’s Frida Kahlo-like self-portraits that incorporate Colombian food products
and Carlos Motta’s use of newsprint to represent US interventions in Latin America, US Colombian artistic mediums and thematic concerns are wide-ranging, and
their work has been shown in galleries and art museums around the United States, in
Colombia, and globally.
Finally, a number of US Colombian performers are important for considering how
US Colombianidades have shaped the cultural landscape of Latinidades. From Sofia
Vergara, John Leguizamo, Diane Guerrero, Isabella Gómez, and Stephanie Beatriz
to “Mo” (Maurice Alberto) Rocca, Odette Annable, and Wilmer Valderrama, US
Colombians (some of whom are intra-Latina/o/x such as the US Colombian Puerto
Rican Leguizamo) have acted in popular movies and television shows. The fact that
they most frequently play characters of different, or even vague, Latin American origins speaks to Hollywood’s representational imprecision when it comes to national
origins as well as its attempt to construct an audience so it can appeal to and profit
from the so-called Hispanic market (Dávila 2012). Yet, these performers are also
evidence of the importance of US Colombianidades in shaping contemporary television and film, even when they are not known generally for their national origin.
These descriptive lists of US Colombian historical, artistic, and cultural figures we
have provided indexes the necessity of archiving the rich historical and contemporary presence of Colombianidades within Latinidades.
Reimagining US Colombianidades: Transnational…
Contextualizing the transnational experiences of US Colombians
To understand US Colombians, it is imperative to understand the political history and regional dynamics that centrally shape Colombians both in Colombia and
abroad. For more than 50 years, Colombia was engaged in a protracted civil war, the
longest of any nation in the Western Hemisphere.9 As LaRosa and Mejía (2017, p.
232) observe, the duration of the Colombian conflict is directly tied to its ability to
adjust to shifting historical conditions within Colombia as well as globally. Since
the 1990s, Colombia has also held the dubious distinction of being the most violent
country in the region, with the worst human rights record, the highest number of
murdered trade unionists, and the world’s largest population of internal refugees.10
On November 24th 2016, the country signed an official peace agreement. Although
generalized violence has abated since its signing, targeted assassinations—specifically of social leaders and human rights activists, many of them indigenous or AfroColombian—have increased, rendering it impossible to speak yet of a “post-conflict” Colombia. Both of the two most prominent warring factions in Colombia’s
dirty war—the various guerrilla groups and paramilitary forces—have committed
grave human rights violations. Yet, notably, since their emergence as US-trained
counterinsurgency forces in the 1960s, the paramilitary forces alone have enjoyed
intimate ties to the Colombian ruling establishment and are responsible for approximately 80% of all human rights violations.
Akin to many other Latin American nations, Colombia has also been shaped by
US Cold War politics and imperialist military influences, which in turn has affected
migratory flows and transnational communal formations. In this regard, the US
Colombian diaspora is, to borrow Nadine Naber’s phrase, “a diaspora of empire”
(Naber 2012, p. 197). One prominent recent example of the profound influence of
US interventionism is Plan Colombia (2000–2015), a US-backed, $10 billion counter-narcotics initiative first championed by the governments of Andrés Pastrana
(1998–2002) and Bill Clinton (1993–2001). Under Plan Colombia, US taxpayers
funded the mass aerial fumigation of coca crops in Colombia, a strategy that was
ultimately halted because of widespread reports of communal displacement, serious health concerns, environmental havoc, and damage to food crops. Plan Colombia also enabled the Colombian government to siphon money to paramilitary
death squads responsible for many of the era’s most egregious human rights violations under the guise of counterinsurgency efforts. President Juan Manuel Santos (2010–2018) ended the program in 2015 because of its devastating health and
environmental effects. However, under pressure of decertification by the Trump
For comprehensive, English-language monographs analyzing the Colombian conflict, US-Colombian
relations, and contemporary Colombian history in general, see Appelbaum (2003), Bergquist et al.
(2001), Bushnell (1993), Farnsworth-Alvear et al. (2017), LaRosa and Mejía (2017), López-Pedreros
(2019), Palacios (2006), Paternostro (1998, 2007), Rappaport (1990), Roldán (2002), Safford and Palacios (2001), Stanfield (2013), and Wade (1993, 2000).
This translates into nearly 15,000 civilian deaths at the hands of paramilitary groups at the height
of the violence between 1988 and 2003. By 2009, the number of political murders in Colombia had
exceeded those of any overt Latin American dictatorship (Hristov 2009).
L. Rincón et al.
government,11 by October 2018 the Iván Duque administration (2018–) had initiated
a pilot program of aerial fumigation in the Antioquia region, a long-standing seat of
paramilitary power (King and Wherry 2018).
As in other Latin American countries, race and institutional racism are part of
the structure of Colombian society. Although Colombia is a racially diverse country
(10% of the total population identifies as Afro-descendant, the second-largest population in South America after Brazil, while 4.4% identifies as indigenous) (DANE
2019; La población indígena 2019),12 racial dynamics and relations have been
historically dominated by discourses and practices that hold light skin and European culture in higher regard (Leal 2010; Wade 2012). This ideology stems from
a colonial racial project that aimed to unify the nation and its regions. In this project, Colombia embraced a hierarchy that conflated high status and social class with
whiteness, and this conflation was a condition for accessing political and economic
power (Appelbaum 2003). Race, however, is not widely discussed or recognized as
a central aspect of social relations (Bonilla-Silva 2002; Wade 2012). As a result, an
important part of the experience of Colombian migrants in the United States is to
learn to navigate and make sense of their place in the racial hierarchy.
Within this context, it is critical to acknowledge the potency of Colombian
regionalism and its impacts on the specific hierarchies of race, nation, language, and
sexuality within both Colombia and the diaspora. The US Colombian community is
replete with profound regional differences (Williams 2018, p. 68). As in much of the
Americas, regionalist discourse in Colombia has historically been framed in oppositional terms (Appelbaum 2003, p. 39). For example, natives of the Caribbean and
Pacific coasts are most frequently associated with blackness—framed as stereotypically less inclined toward hard work—whereas inhabitants of the nation’s highlands
are “naturally” industrious. These epistemological frameworks span time and space,
informing intergenerational and diasporic understandings of Colombianidad. Shaping not only local but, ultimately, also global constructs of race, gender, nation, and
desire, “in Colombia, history gave race a regional structure such that race cannot
be simply understood as a social construction around phenotype, but must also be
seen as a social construction around region” (Wade 1991, p. 46). To cite but one
example, the identity of Antioquia highlands natives has long been closely associated with civilization, capitalism, labor, and, ultimately, whiteness (Tubb 2013, p.
627), a discursive correlation notably present in local narratives about the late Pablo
Escobar. Within Colombia, the raza antioqueña (or the “Antioquian race” of the
Antioquia department) has therefore historically been considered superior, premised
In 2017, the Trump government threatened to decertify Colombia, effectively placing the country on
a black list of nations not deemed to be combating the global drug trade effectively enough. Under decertification, a country forfeits all US foreign aid not directly tied to anti-narcotics measures. In the case of
Colombia, this would entail ceasing all aid related to the 2016 peace accords. The Trump administration has also supported a return to aerial fumigation and forced eradication such as deployed under Plan
Colombia, despite their well-documented negative impacts.
Although we cite these statistics, we recognize that they are not necessarily an entirely accurate
reflection of how Colombians not claiming indigenous or Afro-diasporic identities are racialized on the
ground, both in Latin America and within the diaspora.
Reimagining US Colombianidades: Transnational…
on a supposed mixture of Jew, Creole, and Spaniard and corresponding stereotypes
of hardworking, astute, and entrepreneurial populations (Rojas 2001, p. 30). “The
white legend” or the myth of paisa whiteness thus boasts an extensive history born
of racialized regionalism and is rooted in the profound sense of regional exceptionalism undergirding Antioquia’s racial claims (Appelbaum 2003, p. 12; Tubb 2013,
p. 633), as well as those of other highlands spaces within Colombia. Regionalism
in Colombia is therefore of paramount importance to the transnational study of
Colombian communities because it upholds the specific ethnoracial imaginaries that
inform inter-Colombian and intra-Latina/o/x dynamics at home and abroad. As Garbow’s analysis in this special issue underscores, regional and racial dynamics inform
the understanding diasporic Colombians have of where they stand in the US racial
hierarchy and the place of other Latina/o/x migrants in that framework.
US Colombian political participation and transnational involvement is varied and
at times disparate from other Latina/o/x groups. Although US Colombians have not
been as politically active in their home country and in the United States (Jones-Correa 1998; Guarnizo et al. 2003), they are one of the groups with higher naturalization rates in the United States (Liang 1994; Sierra et al. 2000). Because US Colombians have been able to hold dual citizenship since 1991, naturalization allows them
to maintain social and emotional ties in their home country while providing them
with tools to overcome the restricted social rights imposed by temporary and permanent resident legal statuses (Escobar 2004). In this issue, Ocampo and Ocampo
reveal how these patterns of political participation develop as Colombians settle
permanently in the United States. They show that this more permanent settlement
leads to an increased involvement in US politics, with orientations that vary largely
by class and by the region where US Colombians live and where they come from,
as well as by their immigration status. They demonstrate that the political attitudes
and experiences of US Colombians challenge the assumption of the so-called Latino
vote as a homogeneous, unified category.
Although Colombians in the United States are generally depicted as a group that
is relatively successful socially and economically in comparison to other Latina/o/x
national-origin groups, their experience of racialization and their unstable legal status leads to an experience of “privileged marginality” (Rincón 2015). Indeed, many
still face economic, legal and social constraints that delay their economic and social
incorporation experience in US society. This experience of privileged marginality
is important for Latina/o/x studies to consider in order to further nuance the field’s
understanding of class and race relations within and across Latina/o/x nationalorigin populations. For example, highly educated Colombians can often land a
relatively good job, but racial and legal marginalization can hinder their ability to
achieve occupational and economic upward mobility. Colombians in high-skilled
occupations have also confronted marginalization and delayed economic mobility
as a result of their accents and origins (Rincón 2015). Middle-class Colombians
have reported working two to three low-paying jobs because of limitations imposed
by temporary visas (Rincón 2017) and skills transferability in the US job market
(Meyer et al. 1997). Working-class Colombians tend to be undocumented and subject to exploitation (Collier and Gamarra 2001). Colombians in the United States,
for the most part, experience downward mobility and economic marginalization,
This is
what they
are asking
What does
it mean?
L. Rincón et al.
regardless of the socioeconomic status they held when they arrived to the country.
Legal barriers and discrimination on the basis of race, origin, and accent are at the
root of economic marginalization. When analyzed as a whole, however, US Colombians are more likely to assimilate to mainstream US ways socially and economically; they also tend to maintain their membership and network connections in their
home country (Guarnizo et al. 2003; Escobar 2004). Their high levels of education
have allowed Colombian migrant professionals to achieve relative socioeconomic
success in the United States. This success has led high-skilled Colombian migrants
to stay in the United States in higher numbers than those with lower educational
levels (Medina and Posso 2009). Despite the relatively privileged conditions of US
Colombians, many face economic, legal, and social constraints that delay their economic and social incorporation into US society (Meyer et al. 1997; Banarjee and
Rincón 2019).
Though middle-class descriptors are often used to discuss Colombians, such
as, they are “entrepreneurs,” “well-educated,” and speak “good Spanish,” Colombians also work in low-wage sectors and exhibit working-class characteristics.
While empirical observations of Colombian working-class experiences throughout
the United States are abundant, scholarly evidence of this working-class presence
can largely be found in research about the old industrial centers of the northeast.
Regarding New England, Aviva Chomsky notes that Central Falls, Rhode Island,
and Lowell, Massachusetts, two of the oldest textile towns in the region, attracted a
chain migration of Colombian textile workers from Antioquia starting in the 1960s
(Chomsky 2008, pp. 159–168). Using census data, the Boston Redevelopment
Authority found that by the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century only
8% of the Colombian population living in Boston held a graduate or professional
degree and nearly half of the foreign-born Colombian population worked in food
preparation and serving occupations or building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations.13 Colombian factory workers have also been present in New
Jersey and Long Island, especially after deindustrialization in New York City forced
industry to move to the outskirts starting as early as the 1950s (Fernandez-Kelly
and Sassen 1995; Londoño 2015). Several of our contributors focus on the working class: Ochoa Camacho and Garbow examine Colombian low-wage earners in
New York and Philadelphia, while María Elena Cepeda examines the cultural significance of the young US Colombian girl who “effortlessly moves through workingclass space” in the streets of Brooklyn in Bomba Estéreo’s “Soy yo” music video.
Working-class US Colombianidad is observable in other cultural representations,
such as in the overblown personality and personal aesthetics of Sofía Vergara’s
character Gloria in the sitcom Modern Family (2009–2019); in Daisy Hernández’s
memoir A Cup of Water Under My Bed, which documents her family’s experience
in working-class northern New Jersey; in the abjection of a Colombian immigrant
child corralled in a detention center in HBO’s film Icebox (2018); and in a single
BRA Research Division and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Advancement, “Imagine All the People:
Colombians,” 2016, accessed 9 January 2020. http://www.bosto​nplan​​tachm​ent/5facd​1a3-2ec24e59-ac33-995cd​365a6​e0. The authors use data from the 2009–2013 American Community Survey.
Reimagining US Colombianidades: Transnational…
mother and her children’s efforts to survive in Queens by collecting trash cans in the
film Entre Nos (2009).
Attending to experiences of undocumented migration expands our understanding
of the socioeconomic locations US Colombians occupy, and it opens up rich avenues of inquiry and conceptual tropes for Latina/o/x studies. Colombians colloquially describe crossing undocumented into the United States as going por el Hueco,
which translates as “through the Hole” or “through the Gap.” As Harford Vargas
has theorized, this Colombian metaphor of el Hueco provides a fruitful new trope
for Latina/o/x studies, one that is directly rooted in the experience of undocumented
migration and that complements “the guiding metaphor of Latino studies: ‘la frontera,’ the border” (Harford Vargas 2017b, 2019; Flores 2000, p. 212). To gain entry
into the United States, Colombian undocumented migrants use multiple routes that
extend throughout South America, Central America, and Mexico, as well as the Caribbean, which is key, since studies of undocumented migration primarily focus on
the routes through Central America and Mexico and rarely consider South America
and the Caribbean. As a conceptual metaphor for undocumented migration rooted in
this extended geography, el Hueco captures both the time and place where migrants
cross geopolitical borders undetected, as well as the entire complex process of entering into and subsequently navigating life as undocumented subjects in the United
States, since subjects do not simply pass through el Hueco when they enter the US
but rather live in el Hueco as they navigate gaps in the state’s surveillance apparatus
and holes in access to social services and employment. Given the dominant focus on
the US-Mexico border in the US political imaginary, and the stereotypical assumption in the public sphere that undocumented migrants are impoverished Mexicans
(or, more recently, Central Americans), it is pressing that Latina/o/x studies contest
these oversimplified views by considering Latin American migration from a relational perspective that accounts for different national groups, modes of crossing,
socioeconomic classes, and geographic sites of entry (see Castaño 2017). Attending to US Colombians facilitates a more comprehensive understanding of Latina/o/x
experiences of undocumented migration while also providing a vocabulary for articulating these realities.
Moreover, a more nuanced socioeconomic panorama of US Colombians emerges
when we take into account the environments that they produce and inhabit. The
majority of Colombians migrate from urbanized areas in Colombia and settle in
major metropolises of the United States. In this way, they resemble many other
Latina/o/x migrants. Nonetheless, in important ways, US Colombianidades move
beyond what has traditionally preoccupied scholars studying urban Latinidad.
Though certain urban communities are hubs of Colombian culture and life, such as
Queens (discussed in Ochoa Camacho’s article) or Philadelphia (discussed in Garbow’s article), it would be difficult to take on a study that focuses exclusively on a
Colombian urban community or Colombian “barrio,” to use the scholarly term that is
often applied to Latina/o/x neighborhoods (Londoño 2015). In contrast to Latina/o/x
studies texts on Mexican/Chicana/o/x or Puerto Rican barrios, for example, it is difficult to locate a Colombian barrio in the United States. Indeed, patterns of Colombian
urban settlement in the United States may be most in need of what Gina Pérez and
colleagues call moving “beyond the barrio” (2010). Most Colombians who settled
L. Rincón et al.
in US cities in the 1970s and through the 1990s arrived when other, diverse groups
of Latina/o/xs were also arriving. These immigrants transformed what were once
Mexican or Puerto Rican barrios into nationally and racially diverse communities.
Moreover, Colombians, like many other Latin American immigrants who arrived in
large numbers in the late twentieth century, settled in metropolitan areas that were
changing because of gentrification in cities and the increased suburbanization of
people of color (Jones-Correa 2006). Some Colombians who immigrated in the late
twentieth century settled in the outlying semi-suburban or suburban areas of cities
rather than in the “inner-core” (Aparicio 2014). This spatial dispersion contributes
to the invisibility of Colombians in a Latina/o/x studies field that has focused predominantly on inner-city barrios. The difficulty of studying a “Colombian barrio”
challenges scholars to study multiple places—a multi-nodular approach—and their
networks and/or to do comparative ethnic, intra-Latina/o/x studies of place.14 In his
“Páginas Recuperadas,” John Mckiernan-Gonzalez takes the other spaces of Colombianidad even further by directing his gaze at the inside of the Museum of Natural
History in New York City. There, he homes in on a mural depicting the signing of
the Panama Canal, a visual he reads as a site of Colombianidad obscured.
Framing the futures of US Colombianidades within Latinidad
When a national group is entirely subsumed within the established frameworks of
Latinidad, particularities and complexities are obscured, but a grounding in US
Colombian studies can nuance our understanding of different Latina/o/x positionalities. As we have discussed, the logics of inclusion and visibility in the field of
Latina/o/x studies have often been dictated by historical presence, demographic
data, and oppressed/resistant subjectivities, all of which are useful but also incomplete frameworks for understanding US Colombians. If Latinidades has been used by
scholars to capture “the shared experiences of subordination, resistance, and agency
of the various national groups of Latin Americans in the United States,” how do
we account for subjects who have been left out of a scholarly narrative about working-class and marginalized Latinidad (Aparicio 2017, p. 115)? As this introduction
and the articles in this special issue demonstrate, US Colombianidades are neither
“new” nor strictly comprise marginalized and/or resistant subjects. One of the salient contributions of US Colombian studies to Latina/o/x studies is that attending
to US Colombianidades enables us to examine nonnormative subjects in Latina/o/x
studies, thereby expanding the kinds of subjects Latina/o/x studies scholars typically
US Colombians as a group experience Latinidad similarly but also differently
because the community is simultaneously unseen and hyper-visible: it is rarely the
focus of scholarly studies or media representations, and when US Colombians do
For more on examining Latina/o/x spaces that go beyond contiguous barrio concentrations, see Mike
Davis, Magical Urbanism: Latinos Reinvent the US Big City (New York: Verso, 2001) and Johana Londoño, Abstract Barrios: The Crises of Latinx Visibility in Cities (2020).
s the field
of Latino
Reimagining US Colombianidades: Transnational…
constitute an area of scholarly focus, it is almost exclusively within a binary of being
either criminalized or privileged. That is, US Colombians are most often depicted
as drug traffickers, beautiful women, and elite migrants. Despite needing to contest
these stereotypes, we would argue that scholars also need to attend to this array of
less “likable” subjects.15 The transnational drug trafficker and the middle- or upperclass professional migrant are not categories that are usually examined in the critical
literature, yet this more diverse array of both critiqued and celebrated subjects shape
US Colombianidades, impelling us to deal with these contrasts. Attending to the full
range of US Colombianidades allows us to foreground these subjects who Latina/o/x
studies has usually not examined while also continuing to attend to the subjects who
have been represented (i.e., low-income individuals/communities, colonial agents,
the transnational subject, the hyperfeminine Latina).
We thus offer the term “US Colombianidades” to provide a paradigm for understanding the plurality of US Colombian experiences and identities that the term
capaciously embraces. The term is shifting and complex, is bilingual and bicultural, is produced by nation-states and by the community, and is influenced by the
way various Latinidades have been conceptualized. As Lorgia García-Peña uses
the term dominicidad, we are interested in employing a term that encompasses the
power relations of transnational movement and the “dictions–stories, narratives, and
speech acts–” that they produce (García-Peña 2016, pp. 1, 2).16 And like Frances
Aparicio’s framing of the term “Latinidad/es” as rooted in “semantic messiness
… and numerous and contradictory iterations,” US Colombianidades is generative, messy, and, at times, contradictory in the set of experiences and identities the
term seeks to capture (Aparicio 2017, p. 113). It indexes the diverse range of people
and “multiplicity” of experiences in terms of race, color, gender, sexuality, class,
regional location (both in the United States and from Colombia), citizenship status,
type of migration, residence, language usage, political affiliation, ideology, religion,
age, ability and even national origin without collapsing these distinctions (HamesGarcía 2011). We include national origin here because it encompasses those who are
mixed-origin US Colombians, or “intra-Latina/os,” as Aparicio terms those who are
“of mixed and/or multiple nationalities” (Aparicio 2019, p. 2).17 Indeed, the “es” in
This is true of illicit subjects deemed unlikable or unsavory, like the drug trafficker and the coyote/human smuggler, as well as middle- and upper-class Latina/o/xs, who are often accused of being
“sellouts” for being economically privileged. For studies of middle-class Latina/o/xs, see Elda María
Román’s Race and Upward Mobility (2017) and Jody Agius Vallejo’s Barrio to Burbs (2012). Shakira,
an elite migrant, is also often thought of as a Latin American rather than a Latina, in part because of
her class status, light-skinned privilege, and the unclear temporality of when a Latin American migrant
becomes “Latina/o/x” (Cepeda 2010).
Although we are reminded of García-Peña’s focus on the contradictory dictions, or “contradictions”
as she writes it, that produce Dominican subjectivities, spaces, and ethnoracial identifications from the
top-down and bottom-up and across spaces, we find it necessary to pair Colombianidades with “US” to
underscore the paucity of research on Colombian migrants in the United States and to include the “es” to
emphasize the plurality of the term (García-Peña 2016, p. 1).
In her study, Frances Aparicio (2019) interviews a “ChileanColombian,” an “IrishMexiColombian,”
and “MexiColombians” in Chicago. She even opens her introduction by citing US Colombian Cuban
writers Grisel Acosta and Daisy Hernández, formally embodying in her scholarship what we see as the
L. Rincón et al.
US Colombianidades seeks to emphasize this plurality and diversity of identifications and subject positions.
We also employ the terms “Colombianidades” and “Latina/o/x” to evoke and
invoke terminological developments in the field. We retain the “a” in particular in
recognition of historic Latina feminist struggles and contributions, as Nicole Trujillo-Pagán has cogently asserted (Trujillo-Pagán 2018); we use the “x” to disrupt
the gender binary as well as to mobilize the rich set of additional connotations that
the “x” conjures and the conceptual possibilities it opens up.18 Most salient for this
special issue, we conceive of the “es” in Colombianidades functioning similarly
to the “x” in marking discursive fluidity, as well as the heretofore underexamined
presence of US Colombianidades in Latina/o/x studies. Reflecting on her underrepresented Central American background in the field, Claudia Milian suggests
that the “x” offers a representational space to those sidelined by “the conventional
understandings of what it means to be Latino or Latina” (Milian 2019, p. 2). As a
national-origin group that has also been understudied and underrepresented, our use
of “es” likewise articulates a space of presence and here-ness for US Colombians.
Moreover, the “speculative” nature of the “x” parallels our future-oriented vision
of US Colombianidades contributing to the field of Latina/o/x studies as well as our
use of this special issue to open up a space to curiously theorize US Colombianidades in a generative manner that invites future research on US Colombian experiences and cultural production (Milian 2019, p. 6).
As a subset of Latinidad, we also consider US Colombianidad as open-ended,
ongoing, and contingent on affinities and building alliances. Cristina Beltrán conceptualizes Latina/o/x identity as “something we do rather than as something we
are,” asserting that the term “is a verb” (Beltrán 2010, pp. 19, 157). As Aparicio
observes of the term “Latinidad,” “the semantic transformations in the scholarship
about Latinidad reveal a morphological shift from noun to action” such that it is no
longer solely a description of national origin and ethnic identity but also a means
of coalition-building and strategic group identification between and among people
from the same and different national-origin groups (Aparicio 2019, p. 33). We position our use of US Colombianidad in this bilingual modal verb sense of the term in
order to highlight the linkages (and the dissonances) with other US Latina/o/x
national-origin populations and the non-static process of constructing group identity.
The essays in this special issue likewise take as their point of departure an understanding of US Colombianidades that intersects with conceptualizations of Latinidad in a recognition of the powerful shared commonalities between national-origin
groups and a healthy skepticism toward the flattening of difference that Latinidad
can portend. More in-process than “found object,” and explicitly plural as opposed
Footnote 17 (continued)
central importance of US Colombianidades for Latina/o/x studies. Unlike Aparicio, we choose to separate the names of countries and include “US” when we designate national origin for ease of reading.
Among others, see Claudia Milian’s LatinX (2019) and the 2017 special issue of Cultural Dynamics
on the term Latinx; for a US Colombiana take on “Latinx,” see Patricia Engel’s article “On Naming Ourselves, or: When I Was a Spic,” in the same special issue.
Reimagining US Colombianidades: Transnational…
to singularly monolithic, we frame US Colombianidades as subjectivities-in-themaking that emerge from within as well as from outside the various US Colombian communities. As a product of both the transnational cultural industries and
popular media, as well as of the lived experiences, cultural expressions, and political practices of US Colombian subjects themselves, the articles in this special issue
underscore the often contradictory—and not necessarily exclusively transgressive—
nature of US Colombianidades, in addition to some of the key historical and political moments that have informed their construction. Moreover, we recognize that
US Colombianidad is rooted in and draws from Latinidad because US Colombians
are not understood for their own specificity. Nor do they have access to robust USbased aesthetic and historical traditions and archives like some major national-origin
groups do. Given their often marginal presence, US Colombians read US Colombianidades into the sociocultural texts at hand and frequently articulate their identities
and histories in dialogic relationship to Latinidad.
US Colombian studies share the central concerns of Latina/o/x studies, but this
introduction and the following essays demonstrate that a focus on US Colombianidades provides new salient conceptual tropes and methodologies for Latina/o/x
studies. The issue offers a rich set of articles rooted in different disciplinary
formations that are in interdisciplinary dialogue with one another in a number
of ways. María Elena Cepeda and Catalina Esguerra illuminate how US Colombian cultural production enriches our understanding of the class dynamics of
diasporic subjectivities. María Elena Cepeda unveils how the non-virtuosic performance of a brown girl in an urban space in the Bogotá band Bomba Estereo’s
video of “Soy Yo” offers spaces of intersectional recognition and connection for
diasporic and brown Latina/xs along the lines of race, class, and gender beyond
national boundaries. These spaces of recognition and connection also come to
light in Catalina Esguerra’s analysis of Patricia Engel’s work Vida, as she shows
how the choppy narration of an upper-middle-class US Colombian life represents
the always fluctuating nature of diasporic realities. Diane Garbow’s discussion
of interethnic relations between Colombians and other Latina/o/xs in Philadelphia, Ariana Ochoa Camacho’s ethnographic exploration of Colombian migrants
in Queens, and Angela X. Ocampo and Angie N. Ocampo’s analysis of the political participation of Colombians in US electoral politics underscore the intricate
ways in which Colombians negotiate their social and political incorporation in the
United States. Garbow’s piece highlights how premigration constructions of race
and nationality inform how Colombians in Philadelphia emphasize their whiteness and class background to distinguish themselves racially and geopolitically
from other Latina/o/xs. Ochoa Camacho’s article aligns with that same effort of
distinction from Colombians in the United States and reveals how this distinction leads to isolation embodied in an ever-present experience of soledad; her
article thus offers the term soledad as a uniquely US Colombian migrant affect,
which is the product of racial and spatial structures of power. Simultaneously, the
strong interest US Colombians express in regard to immigration reform and the
US economy in the Ocampos’ analysis reveals the crucial centrality of US institutions and discourses in shaping their political incorporation. Collectively, these
articles lay a foundation for reflecting on the intricate ways in which transnational
L. Rincón et al.
understandings of class, race, region, and politics intersect to shape the cultural
and sociopolitical experiences of US Colombians as diasporic subjects; they
also provide US Colombians with specific repertoires to assert commonalities
and differences among themselves and also in relationship with other Latina/o/xs.
Building on and extending the articles’ attention to US-Colombian relations,
John Mckiernan-González’s “Páginas Recuperadas” and Yamil Avivi’s “Vivencias” unveil how imperial processes have disavowed the Colombianx presence in
the United States. Looking at the murals that decorate the Theodore Roosevelt
Memorial Rotunda in the American Museum of Natural History in New York
City, Mckiernan-González critically exposes and examines the mural’s obscured
depiction of a colonial encounter between US officials and racialized labor on
what was once Colombian territory, thereby reminding us that Colombian presence in the United States is entangled in imperial processes. Yamil Avivi confirms the experience of invisibility of queer Colombians through his account of
Andrés’s life as an asylum-seeker in the US, revealing the clash between dominant first world sexual liberation narratives and the realities of legal stipulations
that prevent Latina/o/xs from achieving their versions of the American dream.
The essays in this special issue thus provide a new set of terms and methodologies for Latina/o/x studies. Whether through a particular term like soledad, or
methodologically through multi-scalar analyses that are attentive to local, intraethnic, interracial, national, and transnational frameworks, the essays in this issue
demonstrate that attending to US Colombianidades prompts a new set of critical
questions that enrich our Latina/o/x field imaginaries.
As we discuss in this introduction, US Colombian studies is a subfield whose
acceptance and recognition within Latina/o/x studies has been persistently tied to
an indeterminate future inclusion within the existing literature. The moment for
expanding Latina/o/x studies to include a vigorous, nuanced examination of US
Colombianidades has been in the making for decades. This special issue reveals the
development of US Colombian subjectivities as they respond to transnational and
intersectional understandings of race, gender, sexuality, class dynamics, community
formations, and imperial exploits, as well as divergent political alignments and contestations. Attending to the nuanced landscape of US Colombian lives and imaginations, and the cultural and sociopolitical exchanges between the United States and
Colombia, this special issue tracks common thematic and sociohistorical intersections between US Colombians and other Latina/o/x-origin groups, as well as those
uniquely salient for US Colombians.
Much as does our opening discussion of the 2020 Superbowl halftime show featuring Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, this special issue traces the ways in which these
narratives complicate our understanding of Latinidades in a manner that illuminates
inter-Latina/o/x solidarities as well as the uniqueness of US Colombian Latinidades.
We thereby invite our fellow Latina/o/x studies practitioners to expand and trouble
the boundaries of the field by understanding how US Colombians are integral to the
fabric that holds Latina/o/x experiences together rather than understanding the community as an additional, discrete subfield of Latina/o/x studies. We believe that such
a relational approach is an underexplored yet critical direction for a future Latina/o/x
Reimagining US Colombianidades: Transnational…
Acknowledgements Muchísimas gracias to the participants of the October 2017 symposium on US
Colombianidades at Williams College and subsequent panels at the Latina/o Studies and American Studies Association gatherings. This special issue is dedicated to these individuals as well as to future scholars of the US Colombian diaspora.
Aparicio, A. 2014. Beyond the City: New Immigrant Gateways in the 21st Century. American Anthropologist 116 (1): 8.
Aparicio, A. 2017. Latinidad. In Keywords for Latina/o Studies, ed. D.R. Vargas, N.R. Mirabal, and L. La
Fountain-Stokes. New York: New York University Press.
Aparicio, F. 2019. Negotiating Latinidad: Intralatina/o Lives in Chicago. Champaign: University of Illinois Press.
Aponte-Pares, L. 1998. Lessons from El Barrio—The East Harlem Real Great Society/Urban Planning
Studio: A Puerto Rican Chapter in the Fight for Urban Self-Determination. New Political Science
20 (4): 399–420.
Appelbaum, N.P. 2003. Muddied Waters: Race, Region, and Local History in Colombia, 1846–1948.
Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Banerjee, P., and L. Rincón. 2019. Trouble in Tech Paradise. Contexts 18 (2): 24–29.
Barron, A. 2020. Shakira Is Famously Colombian-Lebanese and Her “Tongue Moment” Meant a Lot
for Middle Eastern Representation. Mitú, 3 February. https​://weare​​tainm​ent/shaki​
Beltrán, C. 2010. The Trouble with Unity: Latino Politics and the Creation of Identity. New York: Oxford
University Press.
Bergquist, C., R. Peñaranda, and G. Sánchez. 2001. Violence in Colombia, 1990–2000: Waging War and
Negotiating Peace. Wilmington, DE: SR Books.
Bonilla-Silva, E. 2002. We Are All Americans!: The Latin Americanization of Racial Stratification in the
USA. Race and Society 5 (1): 3–16.
Bushnell, D. 1993. The Making of Modern Colombia: A Nation in Spite of Itself. Berkeley: University of
California Press.
Cardenas, M. 2017. The Limits of Recognition: Rethinking Strategies in Central American Politics. Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies 5 (1): 83–99.
Castaño, J. 2017. Ecuadoreans and Colombians in New York. In Latinos in New York: Communities in
Transition, 2nd ed, ed. S. Baver, A. Falcón, and G. Haslip-Viera, 192–219. South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.
Celis, N.V. 2012. The Rhetoric of Hips: Shakira’s Embodiment and the Quest for Caribbean Identity. In
Archipelagos of Sound: Transnational Caribbeanities, Women and Music, ed. Ifeona Fulani, 191–
216. Kingston: University of West Indies Press.
Cepeda, M.E. 2003. Shakira as the Idealized, Transnational Citizen: A Case Study of Colombianidad in
Transition. Latino Studies 1 (2): 210–232.
Cepeda, M.E. 2008. When Latina Hips Make/Mark History: Music Video in the “New” American Studies. Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory 18 (3): 235–252.
Cepeda, M.E. 2010. Musical ImagiNation: US-Colombian Identity and the Latin Music Boom. New
York: New York University Press.
Cepeda, M.E. 2018. Putting a “Good Face on the Nation”: Beauty, Memes and the Gendered Rebranding
of Global Colombianidad. Women’s Studies Quarterly 46 (1/2): 121–138.
Cepeda, M. E. 2019. Competing Tensions: Maluma, Feminist Memes, and the Specter of Pablo Escobar.
Presentation at the Pop Museum Conference, Seattle, 13 April.
Cepeda, M. E. Forthcoming. A Cartel Built for Love: Medellín, Pablo Escobar, and the Scripts of Global
Colombianidad. In Critical Diálogos in Latina and Latino Studies, ed. A. Y. Ramos-Zayas and M.
M. Rúa. New York: New York University Press.
Chomsky, A. 2008. Linked Labor Histories: New England, Colombia, and the Making of a Global Working Class. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
L. Rincón et al.
Collier, M. W., and E. A. Gamarra. 2001. The Colombian Diaspora in South Florida. Working Paper
No. 1, p. 4. LACC Working Paper Series (2001–). https​://digit​alcom​​ps/4.
DANE. 2019. Población negra raizal y palenquera. https​://​/inves​tigac​iones​/
Dávila, A. 2012. Latinos Inc: The Marketing and Making of a People, 2nd ed. Berkeley: University of
California Press.
Dinzey-Flores, Z. 2020. Black Rain on the Latina Superbowl Parade. Black Latinas Know Collective,
8 February. https​://​latin​askno​​-rain-on-the-latin​a-super​bowl-parad​e.
Engel, P. 2017. On Naming Ourselves, or: When I Was a Spic. Cultural Dynamics 29 (3): 193–201.
Erickson-Schroth, L. 2014. Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community.
New York: Oxford University Press.
Escobar, C. 2004. Transnational Politics and Dual Citizenship: The Colombian Experience in the
Latin American Context. Manuscript. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Center for Migration
and Development.
Falconi, J.L., and J.A. Mazzotti (eds.). 2008. The Other Latinos: Central and South Americans in the
United States. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Farnsworth-Alvear, A.M., A.M. Palacios, and A.M. Gómez López (eds.). 2017. The Colombia
Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Fernandez-Kelly, P., and S. Sassen. 1995. Recasting Women in the Global Economy: Internationalization and Changing Definitions of Gender. In Women in the Latin American Development Process, ed. C. Bose and E.A. Belen, 99–124. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Flores, J. 2000. From Bomba to Hip-Hop: Puerto Rican Culture and Latino Identity. New York:
Columbia University Press.
Fojas, C. 2014. Islands of Empire: Pop Culture and US Power. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Fuchs, C. 2007. There’s My Territory: Shakira Crossing Over. In From Bananas to Buttocks: The
Latina Body in Film and Popular Culture, ed. M. Medible, 167–182. Austin: University of
Texas Press.
García-Peña, L. 2016. The Borders of Dominicanidad: Race, Nation, and Archives of Contradiction.
Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Gontovnik, M. 2010. Tracking Transnational Shakira on Her Way to Conquer the World/Rastreando
a la Shakira transnacional en su cambio a la globalización. Zona Próxima 13. http://rcien​tific​
Gruesz, K.S. 2007. America. In Keywords for American Cultural Studies, ed. B. Burgett and G. Hendler. New York: New York University Press.
Guarnizo, L.E., and M. Espitia. 2007. Colombia. In The New Americans: A Guide to Immigration
since 1965, ed. M.C. Waters, R. Ueda, and H.B. Marrow, 371–385. Cambridge, MA: Harvard
University Press.
Guarnizo, L.E., A.I. Sánchez, and E.M. Roach. 1999. Mistrust, Fragmented Solidarity, and Transnational Migration: Colombians in New York City and Los Angeles. Ethnic and Racial Studies 22
(2): 367–396.
Guarnizo, L.E., A. Portes, and W. Haller. 2003. Assimilation and Transnationalism: Determinants of
Transnational Political Action among Contemporary Migrants. American Journal of Sociology
108 (6): 1211–1248.
Hames-García, M. 2011. Identity Complex: Making the Case for Multiplicity. Minneapolis: University
of Minnesota Press.
Harford Vargas, J. 2017a. Forms of Dictatorship: Power, Narrative, and Authoritarianism in the
Latina/o Novel. New York: Oxford University Press.
Harford Vargas, J. 2017b. The Undocumented Subjects of el Hueco: Theorizing a Colombian Metaphor for Migration. Symbolism: An International Annual of Critical Aesthetics 17: 31–53.
Harford Vargas, J. 2019. Crossing through el Hueco: The Visual Politics of Smuggling in Colombian
Migration Films. In Border Cinema: Re-Imagining Identity through Aesthetics, ed. M. Hanna
and R.A. Sheehan, 129–147. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Heredia, J. 2013. South American Latino/a Writers in the United States. In The Routledge Companion
to Latino/a Literature, ed. S. Bost and F.R. Aparicio, 436–444. New York: Routledge.
Heredia, J. 2018. Mapping South American Latina/o Literature in the United States: Interviews with
Contemporary Writers. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Hernández, D. 2014. A Cup of Water Under My Bed. Boston: Beacon Press.
Reimagining US Colombianidades: Transnational…
Herrero-Olaizola, A. 2007. Se Vende Colombia, Un País De Delirio: El Mercado Literario Global y La
Narrativa Colombiana Reciente. Symposium: A Quarterly Journal in Modern Literatures 61 (1):
Hristov, J. 2009. Legalizing the Illegal: Paramilitarism in Colombia’s “Post-Paramilitary” Era. NACLA
Report on the Americas 42 (4): 12–19.
Iskandar, A. 2003. “Whenever, Wherever!”: The Discourse of Orientalist Transnationalism in the Construction of Shakira. Ambassadors 6 (2). http://ambas​sador​​ves/issue​14/selec​ted_studi​
Jones-Correa, M. 1998. Between Two Nations: The Political Predicament of Latinos in New York City.
Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Jones-Correa, M. 2006. Reshaping the American Dream: Immigrants, Ethnic Minorities, and the Politics
of the New Suburbs. In The New Suburban History, ed. K.M. Kruse and T.J. Sugrue, 183–204.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Kanellos, N., and I.L. Hernández. 2003. Introduction: Lucas Guevara: The First Hispanic Novel of Immigration. In Lucas Guevara, ed. A.D. Guerra, 7–20. Houston, TX: Arte Público Press.
King, E., and S. Wherry. 2018. Eradicating Peace in Colombia. NACLA Report on the Americas, 6
December. https​://nacla​.org/news/2018/12/07/eradi​catin​g-peace​-colom​bia.
La población indígena en Colombia es de 1’905.617 personas según Censo del Dane. 2019. 16
LaRosa, M., and G.R. Mejía. 2017. Colombia: A Concise Contemporary History, 2nd ed. Lanham, MD:
Rowman and Littlefield.
Leal, C. 2010. Usos del concepto raza en Colombia. In Debates sobre ciudadanía y políticas raciales en
las Américas negras. Bogotá: Universidad Nacional de Colombia. http://www.acade​​
Liang, Z. 1994. Social Contact, Social Capital, and the Naturalization Process: Evidence from Six Immigrant Groups. Social Science Research 23 (4): 407–437.
Lippi-Green, R. 2012. English with an Accent: Language, Ideology, and Discrimination in the United
States, 2nd ed. New York: Routledge.
Londoño, J. 2015. Critical Latina/o Urban Studies in a Metropolitan Perspective: The Case of Latina/oMajority Union City, New Jersey. Occasion 8: 1–13.
Londoño, J. 2016. New Directions in Colombianx American@ Studies. Roundtable at the Latina/o Studies Association Conference, Pasadena, California, 7–9 July.
Londoño, J. 2020. Abstract Barrios: The Crises of Latinx Visibility in Cities. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
López-Pedreros, A.R. 2019. Makers of Democracy: A Transnational History of the Middle Classes in
Colombia. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Medina, C., and C. Posso. 2009. Colombian and South American Immigrants in the United States of
America: Education Levels, Job Qualifications and the Decision to Go Back Home. Borradores de
Economía 572: 1–42.
Meyer, J.-B., J. Charum, D. Bernal, J. Gaillard, J. Granés, J. Leon, A. Montenegro, A. Morales, C. Murcia, and N. Narvaez-Berthelemot. 1997. Turning Brain Drain into Brain Gain: The Colombian
Experience of the Diaspora Option. Science, Technology and Society 2 (2): 285–315.
Migration Policy Institute. 2015. The Colombian Diaspora in the United States. Retrieved May, 2020
from www.migra​tionp​olicy​.org/publi​catio​ns/RAD-Colom​bia.PDF.
Migration Policy Institute. 2017. As Colombia Emerges from Decades of War, Migration Challenges
Mount. Retrieved Apr 13, 2020 from https​://www.migra​tionp​olicy​.org/artic​le/colom​bia-emerg​esdecad​es-war-migra​tion-chall​enges​-mount​.
Migration Policy Institute. 2018. South American Immigrants in the United States. Retrieved Nov 7,
2019 from. https​://www.migra​tionp​olicy​.org/artic​le/south​-ameri​can-immig​rants​-unite​d-state​s.
Milian, C. 2019. LatinX. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Mize, R.L. 2018. Latina/o Studies. Medford, MA: Polity.
Morales, I., and D. Oliver-Velez. 2010. Foreword: Why Read the Young Lords Today? In The Young
Lords, A Reader, ed. D. Enck-Wanzer, 9–14. New York: New York University Press.
Naber, N. 2012. Arab America: Gender, Cultural Politics, and Activism. New York: New York University
Nasser, M. R. 2008. Tra(n)zando Identidades: Colombian Neighborhoods, Images, and Narratives from
Narco-Trafficking to Beauty Queens. PhD Dissertation, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA.
L. Rincón et al.
Nasser, M.R. 2012. Feminized Topographies: Women, Nature, and Tourism in Colombia es Pasión. Revista
de Estudios Colombianos 40: 15–25.
Nasser De La Torre, M.R. 2013. Bellas por naturaleza: Mapping National Identity on Colombian Beauty
Queens. Latino Studies 11 (3): 293–312.
Oboler, S. 1995. Ethnic Labels, Latino Lives: Identity and the Politics of (Re)Presentation in the United
States. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Oboler, S. 2005a. South Americans. In The Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in the United States,
ed. S. Oboler and D.J. González. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Oboler, S. 2005b. Introduction: Los que llegarón: 50 Years of South American Immigration (1950–2000)—
An Overview. Latino Studies 3 (1): 42–52.
Ochoa Camacho, A. 2016. Living with Drug Lords and Mules in New York: Contrasting Colombian Criminality and Transnational Belonging. In The Immigrant Other: Lived Experiences in a Transnational
World, ed. R. Furman, G. Lamphear, and D. Epps, 166–179. New York: Columbia University Press.
Ortíz, R.L. 2016. The Cold War in the Americas and Latina/o Literature. In The Cambridge Companion to
Latina/o American Literature, ed. J. Morán González, 72–90. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Palacios, M. 2006. Between Legitimacy and Violence: A History of Colombia, 1875–2002. Durham, NC:
Duke University Press.
Paternostro, S. 1998. In the Land of God and Man: A Latin Woman’s Journey. New York: Putnam.
Paternostro, S. 2007. My Colombian War: A Journey through the Country I Left Behind. New York: Henry
Pérez, G.M., F.A. Guridy, and A. Burgos (eds.). 2010. Beyond el Barrio: Everyday Life in Latina/o America.
New York: New York University Press.
Pew Research Center. 2017. 7 Facts for National Hispanic Heritage Month. https​://www.pewre​searc​
Pew Research Center. 2019. Facts on Hispanics of Colombian Origin in the United States, 2017. https​://
Pobutsky, A.B. 2013. Peddling Pablo: Escobar’s Cultural Renaissance. Hispania 96 (4): 684–699.
Pobutsky, A.B. 2017. Going Down Narco Memory Lane: Pablo Escobar in the Visual Media. In Territories
of Conflict: Traversing Colombia Through Cultural Studies, ed. A. Fanta Castro, A. Herrero-Olaizola,
and C. Rutter-Jensen, 282–293. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.
Pobutsky, A.B. 2020. Pablo Escobar and Colombian Narcoculture. Gainesville: University of Florida Press.
Porras Contreras, I.C. 2017. “Sofía Vergara Made Me Do It”: On Beauty, Costeñismo and Transnational
Colombian Identity. In The Routledge Companion to Latina/o Media, ed. M.E. Cepeda and D.I. Casillas, 307–319. New York: Routledge.
Rappaport, J. 1990. The Politics of Memory: Native Historical Interpretation in the Colombian Andes. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Rincón, L. 2015. Between Nations and the World: Negotiating Legal and Social Citizenship in the Migration
Process: The Case of Colombian and Puerto Rican Computer Engineers in the American Northeast.
PhD Dissertation, State University of New York at Albany. ProQuest AAT 3722076.
Rincón, L. 2017. The Indelible Effects of Legal Liminality among Colombian Migrant Professionals in the
United States. Latino Studies 15 (3): 323–340.
Rivera-Rideau, P. 2020. What J-Lo and Shakira Missed in Their Super Bowl Halftime Show. Washington
Post, 4 February. https​://www.washi​ngton​​ok/2020/02/04/what-j-lo-shaki​ra-misse​d-their​
Rojas, C. 2001. Civilization and Violence: Regimes of Representation in Nineteenth-Century Colombia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Roldán, M. 2002. Blood and Fire: La Violencia in Antioquia, Colombia, 1946–1953. Durham, NC: Duke
University Press.
Román, E. M. 2017. Race and Upward Mobility: Seeking, Gatekeeping, and Other Class Strategies in Postwar America. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Safford, F., and M. Palacios. 2001. Colombia: Fragmented Land, Divided Society. Oxford: Oxford University
Schaeffer, F.A. 2012. Love and Empire: Cybermarriage and Citizenship across the Americas. New York:
New York University Press.
Sierra, C.M., T. Carrillo, L. DeSipio, and M. Jones-Correa. 2000. Latino Immigration and Citizenship. Political Science and Politics 33 (3): 535–540.
Stanfield, M.E. 2013. Of Beasts and Beauty: Gender, Race and Identity in Colombia. Austin: University of
Texas Press.
Reimagining US Colombianidades: Transnational…
Torres-Saillant, S. 2007. Pitfalls of Latino Chronologies: South and Central Americans. Latino Studies 5 (4):
Trujillo-Pagán, N. 2018. Crossed Out by LatinX: Gender Neutrality and Genderblind Sexism. Latino Studies
16 (3): 396–406.
Tubb, D. 2013. Narratives of Citizenship in Medellín, Colombia. Citizenship Studies 17 (5): 627–640.
Vallejo, J.A. 2012. Barrio to Burbs: The Making of the Mexican American Middle Class. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Varela Rodríguez, J. P. 2020. I Am Colombian, and This Is Why Shakira’s Halftime Performance Was So
Meaningful. Yahoo Lifestyle, 4 February. https​://​.com/lifes​tyle/am-colom​bian-why-shaki​
Vigil, A.E. 2014. War Echoes: Gender and Militarization in U.S. Latina/o Cultural Production. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Wade, P. 1991. The Language of Race, Place, and Nation in Colombia. América Negra 2 (1991): 41–66.
Wade, P. 1993. Blackness and Race Mixture: The Dynamics of Racial Identity in Colombia. Baltimore, MD:
Johns Hopkins University Press.
Wade, P. 2000. Music, Race, and Nation: Música Tropical in Colombia. Chicago: University of Chicago
Wade, P. 2012. Race in Latin America. In A Companion to Latin American Anthropology, ed. D.A. Poole,
175–192. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Williams, B.C. 2018. The Pursuit of Happiness: Black Women, Diasporic Dreams, and the Politics of Emotional Transnationalism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Publisher’s Note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps
and institutional affiliations.
Lina Rincón is Assistant Professor of sociology at Framingham State University. Her scholarly work
focuses on the intersections of immigration, race, racism and legality among Latin American and Caribbean highly skilled migrants in the United States. Rincón has published scholarly articles on the legal
struggles confronted by Colombian migrant professionals and on scholarly activism in higher education.
Her publications have appeared in Latino Studies, Contexts, The Humboldt Journal of Social Relations,
and in the edited volume Migrant Professionals in the City.
Johana Londoño is Assistant Professor in the Department of Latin American, Caribbean, and US
Latina/o studies at the University at Albany, SUNY. Her publications appear in edited volumes, such
as Latino Urbanism (NYU Press 2012), and journals including American Quarterly and Social Semiotics. She has received fellowships from the Ford Foundation; Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture,
Urbanism, and the Humanities; and NYU; among other institutions. Londoño’s book, Abstract Barrios:
The Crises of Latinx Visibility in Cities, is forthcoming from Duke University Press.
Jennifer Harford Vargas is Associate Professor of English at Bryn Mawr College. She researches and
teaches Latina/o/x cultural production, theories of the novel, decolonial imaginaries, undocumented
migration narratives, and testimonio forms in the Americas. She is the author of Forms of Dictatorship:
Power, Narrative, and Authoritarianism in the Latina/o Novel and co-editor of Junot Díaz and the Decolonial Imagination. She has published in the journals MELUS, Callaloo, and Symbolism, and contributed
to the edited books Border Cinema, Monument Lab, and Latina/o Literature in the Classroom.
María Elena Cepeda is Professor and co-chair of Latina/o studies at Williams College, where she
researches Latina/o/x media and popular culture. Cepeda is the author of Musical ImagiNation: U.S.Colombian Identity and the “Latin Music Boom” and co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Latina/o
Media. Cepeda has published in Women’s Studies Quarterly, Feminist Media Studies, Women and Performance, and Identities, and her commentary has been featured by National Public Radio, the New York
Times, and Rolling Stone, among other media outlets.
Reproduced with permission of copyright owner.
Further reproduction prohibited without permission.