Academic journal article Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy

A Note on Terminology

Academic journal article Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy

A Note on Terminology

Article excerpt

In establishing the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy (HJHP) at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 1985, our founding editors were cognizant of the importance of terminology and naming. They sought to form a credible publication that would bring the US Latina/o community to the forefront of policy debates and that would name new priorities, challenges, and opportunities for policy makers to consider. Naming the journal itself proved to be an important endeavor. For decades, the terms used to define US Latina/os fluctuated greatly, creating much dissonance within the policy discourse. Ethnic origin (e.g., "Mexican") and regional labels (e.g. ,"Central American") were not inclusive enough to capture HJHP's mission as a publication. Similarly, emerging pan-ethnic constructs (e.g., "Latin American") implied homogeneity where incredible diversity and fluidity exists. Even with these limitations, our founding editors knew that a common language was needed to bridge conversations across disciplines.

Our founding editors thus reached consensus around "Hispanic," a term that reflected national trends at the time. The term's adoption by the federal government reflected the growing prominence of US Latina/os in domestic policy. In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced the observation of Hispanic Heritage Week, an important step in recognizing the population's presence and history. In 1976, Congress passed legislation requiring the federal government to collect and analyze data on "Americans of Spanish origin or descent" in order to understand how this subgroup was impacted by federal policies and programs. …

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