The first course assignment is a reflection upon perceptions of Latino identity in Hartford, using audio recorded in street interviews with passers-by on Park St. Students consider residents’ testimony in the context of readings they have done, particularly that of Itamar Even-Zohar’s work on polysystems. Even-Zohar suggests that one can view communities as a “polysystem” or network of smaller systems, that have points of overlap in values and other commonalities but that also often have points of tension between them. These smaller systems have their own ”repertory” or cultural tool kit, but may often use some of the same tools as other groups. As part of our exploration, we ask if there is one big happy Latino community in Hartford, or if indeed there are separate communities–of Puerto Ricans, Peruvians, Mexicans, etc. who have a limited overlap of contact, experiences, goals; or who may even feel a certain tension with other ethnic groups.
To read Even-Zohar’s work on polysystems, you can download his writing from the internet. Here is his book Papers in Culture Research from 2005 (ez-cr-2005) but it’s a huge file and a work of 250 pages so be prepared! If you want my powerpoint presentation summarizing some of his main points (it’s in Spanish), you can click here: polisistemas. Once you have reviewed those, you can click on student compositions to get a sense of how students related these ideas of Hartford as a “system of systems” to commentary from Hartford residents they interviewed.
Rebecca and Jeannie’s essay on “La Identidad Hartfordense”
What do you think about Latino identity in Hartford? Is there one Latino community, or many? What is the basis for the formation of community among ethnic groups in Hartford? What is the overlap between these different “systems” or groups, and what tools do they share in their repertoires?