Skip to main content

Latina/o Studies and Writing in the Social Sciences

Latina/o Studies is a vibrant field that intersects with many disciplines; to develop a full picture of the field of Latina/o Studies often requires transdisciplinary research. Latina/o Studies Scholars have conducted plentiful research in the social sciences, including, but certainly not limited to, in Sociology, Psychology, Women and Gender Studies, Linguistics, and Political Science departments. Given the complexity and immensity of this field, as you design your lesson plan, you may try choosing a subfield that will narrow your students’ focus, while still allowing them to engage in research related to Latina/o Studies.

This page is designed to introduce you to some of the trends in Latina/o Studies and provide you with ideas and guidance to help you design a Social Sciences unit. This page also includes a sample unit assignment. Instructors may directly incorporate the sample unit assignment into their syllabi, but the assignments are also designed so that instructors can easily modify and adjust the sample to align with their goals for the unit.

What Are Some of the Major Topics at the Intersection of Latina/o Studies and the Humanities that my class might explore?

            Like any discipline, the field of Latina/o Studies is constantly evolving. The following list is not intended to be comprehensive, but rather is designed to demonstrate the breadth of topics germane to Latina/o Studies:

  • Latina/o/x feminisms and intersectional feminism
  • LatinX environmentalisms
  • Impacts and intersections of Colonialism and US Imperialism
  • Intersections of race and ethnicity
  • Migrant labor and labor rights organizing
  • Afro-Latina/o/x lived experiences and cultural production
  • The impacts and implications of terminology including LatinX, Latinx, Latina/o, Latin@, Latino, and Hispanic
    • Questions about terminology are part of a rich, ongoing conversation in this field. In this document, we use Latina/o to refer to Latina/o Studies and the UNC Latina/o Studies Program. In all other circumstances, we use Latina/o/x. Some scholars have argued for the broad use of LatinX. For more on terminology see Claudia Milian’s LatinX.9
  • Hybridity
  • Immigration
  • Impacts of gentrification
  • State violence
  • Language, bilingualism, and codeswitching
  • Latina/o/x Education in the United States
  • Identity formation
  • Militarization of the US/Mexico border
  • Activism and social organizing
  • Divestment
  • Representations of Latina/o/x peoples in media
As an Instructor, What Can I Incorporate into a Social Science-Based Latina/o Studies Unit?

A useful starting point for instructors is to consider where their own expertise might intersect with Latina/o Studies, and then conducting supplementary research to help build your assignment. For example, if you specialize in twentieth-century African American Studies, you might consider designing a unit assignment that centers on Afro-Latina/o/x lived experiences.

You might also consider using current events, campus performances, and community resources to anchor your unit assignment. The Latina/o Studies Program Staff are available for consultation as you embark on creating or modifying a unit assignment.

When designing your unit, you might consider consulting the following campus and community resources:

When creating your unit, you may also want to consider incorporating the following lessons into your schedule:

  • An introduction to Latina/o Studies
  • An introduction to methodology in the social sciences, common pitfalls in the social sciences, and examples of ethical, decolonial research practices
  • A discussion of the history of social sciences and the ways social sciences have been (and can still be) used to uphold imperial, colonial, and authoritarian projects, followed up with a discussion of decolonial methodologies within these fields, and examples of ethical research.
What Types of Unit Assignments Lend Themselves Well to Latina/o Studies?

            There is no limit to the types of units one can create that incorporate Latina/o Studies. The Sample Unit Assignment culminates in a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship application for a sociological project, but could be easily modified to incorporate other fields. Other final projects could include:

  • A policy brief
  • Podcast
  • Literature review
  • A research proposal
Sample Unit Assignment

In this assignment, students prepare an application for a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship. Their research begins with choosing a subfield and reviewing the research in their chosen subfield, followed by the creation of research aims, and culminating in a completed fellowship application.

            Note: this sample unit project is broad in scope, but could easily be modified to focus on a narrower subfield.

LSP Writing in the Social Sciences Sample Lesson Plan (PDF version)

LSP Writing in the Social Sciences Sample Lesson Plan (MS Word version)

For more sample unit assignments, click here to see what some of our Latina/o Studies Teaching Award Recipients have done.

  1. Library guides for Latina/o Studies from UNC and Northwestern (these include popular databases for Latina/o Studies, as well as lists of reference materials useful to both instructors and students)
  2. Vargas, Deborah R, Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, and Nancy Raquel Mirabal, eds. Keywords for Latina/o Studies (New York, NY: NYU Press, 2017).
  3. Morales, Ed. Latinx: The New Force in American Politics and Culture (New York, NY: Verso, 2018).
  4. Geoffrey Fox, Hispanic Nation: Culture, Politics, and the Constructing of Identity (Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona Press, 1997).
  5. Rivera-Rideau, Petra R., Jennifer A. Jones, and Tianna Paschel, eds. Afro-Latin@s in Movement: Critical Approaches to Blackness and Transnationalism in the Americas. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.
  6. DeGuzmán, María, “The Emerging Geographies of a Latina/o Studies Program” Southeastern Geographer, vol. 51, no. 2 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2011).
  7. Van Ausdale, Debra, “Social Science is Not Social Reality: Race, Values, and the Defense of Scientific Racism” Journal of American Ethnic History, vol. 16, no. 2 (Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1997).
  8. Dávila, Arlene, Latinos, INC: The Marketing and Making of a People (Berkeley, CA: The University of California Press, 2012).
  9. Rios, Victor M, Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys (New York, NY: NYU Press, 2011).
  10. Claudia Milian, LatinX (Minneapolis, Minnesota: The University of Minnesota Press, 2020).
  11. Lugones, María, Pilgrimages/Peregrinajes: Theorizing Coalition Against Multiple Oppressions (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003).
  12. Anthony Christian Ocampo, The Latinos of Asia (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016).
  13. Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera, 1987. Reprint as a second edition (San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute Books, 1999).
  14. Mignolo, Walter, Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border Thinking (Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2012).
  15. Harding, Sandra, ed. The “Racial” Economy of Science: Toward a Democratic Future (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1993).
Print Friendly, PDF & Email