A sancocho of race and place: Critical race ecocriticism in the work of U.S. Caribbean Latino/a writers

Date
2010
Authors
Acosta, Grisel Yolanda
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Abstract

My dissertation has the purpose of examining U.S. Caribbean Latino/a texts for negotiations of race and place. I use aspects of critical race theory, ecocriticism theory, womanist theory, and educational theory, and synthesize them into a lens which I call critical race ecocriticism. The literary study explores how characters in the texts move into and out of different environments, how they negotiate their identities in different environments, and the characteristics they exhibit when successfully negotiating racial identity and survival in the environments.

I explore the works of Julia Alvarez, Angie Cruz, Junot Díaz, Sandra Maria Esteves, Evelio Grillo, Tato Laviera, Achy Obejas, Judith Ortiz Cófer, Loida Maritza, Pérez, Pedro Pietri, Willie Perdomo, Esmeralda Santiago, and Piri Thomas. Grillo's work shows that U.S. Caribbean Latinos/as have had to identify as African American in order to survive, Thomas' work shows that friendships with African Americans has facilitated racial negotiation, and the later work of Loida Martiza Pérez, Julia Alvarez and Sandra Maria Esteves shows Latino/a acceptance of a varied racial heritage, despite community members who still deny African ancestry. All the works demonstrate that White Latinos/as find themselves in less environmentally hazardous places than their Black or mixed race Latino/a counterparts.

I use the information gathered to develop a lesson plan/unit that can be used in high school or college-level classrooms. The unit is designed to encourage mutual learning by teachers and students, as it is a student-centered approach to learning that allows students to pull from their own funds of knowledge.

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Keywords
Environmental Issues, Latino/a Literature, Race and Environment, Race and Place, U.S. Caribbean Latinos/as
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Department
English