Amnesty and the Rise of Latina/o Pop Culture
This chapter links the celebration of Latina/o culture and especially Latina bodies in the 1990s explosion of Latina/o pop culture to democratic rhetoric surrounding the Immigration Reform and Control Act’s amnesty program. Media framed Latina/o stars as immigrants in celebratory manner, while amnesty was touted as a democratic watershed for undocumented immigrants who were mostly of Mexican descent. The chapter argues that in affectively mobilizing the “nation of immigrants” discourse to portray America as the globally exceptional guarantor of democratic rights and equal access to economic mobility, both the Latina/o Explosion and amnesty erased the material realities of immigration, sexism, and racism. It considers the appropriation of the language of feminism and multiculturalism in each case in order to show that with a cosmetic rather than redistributive equality, both “nation of immigrants” strains powerfully masked the exploitation and violence that are constitutive of neoliberalism.
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