Becoming Latino: America’s Latin Culture
Dr. Jonathan Hagood, Hope College
Popular culture today exposes North Americans to different aspects of Latin American culture, but we are not fully informed as to where these cultural elements originally came from or what they meant to their creators. The North American lifestyle has accepted these elements of Latino culture, and yet popular culture has lost the significance of these traditions, foods, and dances. The main focus of this study was to identify how cultural elements have been taken from Latin America and compare their significance in the United States and in their originating country through studies of the history of specific Latin American dances. This project also explored how these Latino traditions came to the United States and how they were altered to fit North American culture. This research clearly demonstrates that although people within the United States believe they are enacting aspects of Latino culture, these cultural elements in fact represent a completely different idea than what they originally meant to the Latin Americans who invented these traditions because they were made to appeal more to the average North American citizen. By understanding the complexities of the meanings of the Latino culture and comparing them to the North American interpretation of them, we can better learn the significance of particular Latino and Latin American cultural elements.
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