Latina/o Sexualities: Probing Powers, Passions, Practices, and Policies

Latina/o Sexualities: Probing Powers, Passions, Practices, and Policies

Latina/o Sexualities: Probing Powers, Passions, Practices, and Policies

Latina/o Sexualities: Probing Powers, Passions, Practices, and Policies


Latina/os are currently the largest minority population in the United States. They are also one of the fastest growing. Yet, we have very limited research and understanding of their sexualities. Instead, stereotypical images flourish even though scholars have challenged the validity and narrowness of these images and the lack of attention to the larger social context. Gathering the latest empirical work in the social and behavioral sciences, this reader offers us a critical lens through which to understand these images and the social context framing Latina/os and their sexualities.

Situated at the juncture of Latina/o studies and sexualities studies, Latina/o Sexualities provides a single resource that addresses the current state of knowledge from a multidisciplinary perspective. Contributors synthesize and critique the literature and carve a separate space where issues of Latina/o sexualities can be explored given the limitations of prevalent research models. This work compels the current wave in sexuality studies to be more inclusive of ethnic minorities and sets an agenda that policy makers and researchers will find invaluable.


In April 2005 the editor of this volume hosted a conference entitled “Latina/o Sexualities: Breaking Silences, Creating Changes” at the University of Connecticut through the Institute for Puerto Rican and Latino Studies. In the course of planning this conference, many Latina/o scholars working on Latina/o sexualities, shared frustrations regarding the limited amount and range of empirically based research on Latina/o sexualities. In addition, there was disappointment with the lack of critical analysis of the available social and behavioral science literature to assess its validity, relevance, and applicability to Latinas and Latinos. We believe that this type of mapping and analysis is urgently needed and that Latina/o scholars and decision makers need to play a major role in such an initiative.

During this same period, Barbara Klugman at the Ford Foundation had arrived at a similar conclusion as she sought consultations from experts in Black and Latina/o sexualities. In Ford’s discussions, it was clear that a concerted effort was needed to advance social and behavioral research on Latina/o sexualities. There was no current work that attempted to assess the overall field of Latina/o sexualities, a field that is slowly emerging yet remains fragmented. What was being produced, and ignored? And what contributions, if any, are there for policies and programs to address the well-being and future needs of this population regarding sexuality? In January 2006 the Ford Foundation funded a two-year project on Latina/o Sexualities, which I directed, to begin mapping the current state of knowledge and discourse, in particular within the social and behavioral sciences. It also funded a similar project on Black Sexualities, directed by Juan Battle, professor of sociology at the City University of New York.

This project brought together an advisory board of experts, which included Latina/o academics across various disciplines as well as policymakers and educators, to debate and outline a plan to systematically assess and document the state of Latina/o sexualities research. This volume contains papers that were commissioned by the Latina/o Sexualities Research Project based on themes and issues the board identified either as having sufficient scholarship available or as being important areas of exploration. All authors were asked to ascertain what had been written on a particular theme or topic and to identify gaps and future directions for research, and policy implications wherever possible. There were . . .

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