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UNC Latina/o Studies Graduate Symposium:


Latinx (Im)mobilities: Identity and Belonging in the Pre-Covid-19 Era, Pandemic Times, and Possible Futures

November 22, 2021 at 5 PM



For our 4th annual UNC Latina/o Studies Program graduate symposium, we are interested in accounting for the historical relationships that Latinx populations have had to (Im)mobility as well as the ways the current pandemic moment has affected Latinx mobility.


From the early Spanish conquistadores traveling through North America to the more contemporary Latin American migrants from Central America and Mexico to the U.S. (as well as those Latinx who travel to and from the U.S. and Latin America as well as parts of Spain), mobility has been a defining characteristic of Latinx populations. Such Latinx movements have shaped U.S. social, political, and physical landscapes. The U.S. South, in particular, has experienced a greater rise in Latinx populations than any other region in the U.S. Latinx populations in this area have increased from 18.3 million to 23.1 million from 2010-2019, and such numbers have led to a growing presence of tiendas and products marketed toward their needs. Such Latinx migrations or mobilities throughout what we currently inhabit as the United States, then, tell stories about these populations. As importantly, they help us consider how Latinx people have come to build lives for themselves in the U.S. and left impressions upon its physical, political, and economic landscapes.


Some topics considered are:


  • Latinx (Im)mobility
  • Pandemic Travel Restrictions
  • Latinx Migrations
  • Border Studies
  • Cultural Studies
  • Latinx Disability Studies
  • Latinx health disparities
  • Latinx consumerism


For this symposium, we are conceiving of mobility, or lack thereof, from various angles and disciplinary methods to explore Latinx movements or Latinx people in flux—that is, evolving Latinidades with new formations occurring continually. As we consider Latinx people’s historical and current place in and beyond U.S. mainstream society, we must also ask how Latinx presence and cultural, intellectual, artistic, and economic contributions have translated, in some instances, to political mobilization in scopes from the broader internationalism and/or nationalism of some Latinx groups to the more local work of others. As Latinx people continue to (re-)form through ongoing political efforts and contacts with other Latinx and non-Latinx people in U.S. society, we must also consider the systems that allow for/restrict their upward social mobility. We need to consider questions of privilege and where Latinx people land on this envisioned spectrum of (im)mobility.


Considering Latinx social (im)mobility also enables us to recognize Latinx populations as consumers with spending power and, thus, the means to influence U.S. and global markets. If Latinxs’ purchasing power influences production and industry output, then we must also consider Latinxs’ essential role in environmental impacts, as industrial waste flows through waterways and pollutants travel through air. How might Latinx populations invest in sustainable forms of consumption that lessen their footprint? How might they celebrate and journey to their ancestral lands, particularly during pandemic times, in ways that do not require physical trips by plane, ship, train, bus, or car? Such questions are especially relevant to Latinx people when we consider the disproportionate health impacts of both industrial pollution and Covid-19 on working-class and minoritized communities, including Latinx populations. As such, we also invite scholars interested in exploring Latinx (im)mobilities through disability studies frameworks to submit abstracts that focus on the special health challenges Latinx populations face due to the web of social networks that define their realities and the ways they might change industries or personal practices to positively impact their environment(s).


Keywords: Latinx (Im)mobility and Place, Latinx Journeys, Latinx Travel Narratives, Latinx Health Disparities, Migrations and Deportations and Expatriation, Ecocriticism, Latinx History and Politics, Health Humanities, Disability Studies


View a video recording of this event below:

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