Miranda Joseph in her book Against the Romance of Community (U Minnesota Press, 2002) argues that communities are increasingly being constructed around capitalistic practices rather than, for example, religious or social ones. She is a Marxist whose ideas and many and complex. For my powerpoint summarizing some of her ideas (in English), click here: joseph. If you have access to Trinity’s library system the book is available online as an e-book. If not, it is readily available for purchase on Amazon.
We were fortunate to spend some time with Marisol Monserrate of SAMA, The Spanish American Merchants Association of Hartford, which assists small businesses in becoming established and successful. Marisol talked to us about the Park St area and its development. Students walked around Park St to get some sense of how people in the area feel about its economic progress, and they then wrote essays questioning whether or not the Frog Hollow community is now one in which capitalism is the principal factor that shapes it.
Is the heart of any community now where you go to shop? What do you think? Miranda Joseph also believes that market forces reinforce ethnic separation. Advertisers market to Latinos, and then when Latinos consume products directed at them, such as Goya beans or a Mexican soap opera, they reaffirm their ethnic identity. Their consumption, she claims, is now more important than any other socializing factor. You are Latino because you listen to reggaeton or salsa, you wear a particular brand of shoes or clothes, you watch Univision; because you eat empanadas or drink atole.
What makes you who you are ethnically? Do you agree or disagree with Joseph?