Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 1997


This essay, an expansion of remarks delivered at the LatCrit I Conference -- the first conference ever convened to discuss and explore critical legal thought from a Latina/o perspective -- develops a basis for articulating a LatCrit theory. As the introductory section, "LatCrit: The Voice for Latina/o Narratives" sets out, Latinas/os are a diverse community, whose identity components -- race, sex, ethnicity, language, and sexuality to name a few of the pertinent ones -- are indivisible yet diverse and varied. Such diversity, to date, has not allowed for a cohesive Latina/o theoretical model to be articulated. Rather, it has been the basis of skepticism as to whether such a model could exist. The "Culture Clashes" section details how, in the context of the majority culture in the U.S., such diversity has resulted in a fragmenting of identities within each individual depending on external social/political contexts. More specifically, "Confused Constructs" reveals that the indivisibility of the Latina/o identity components does not easily harmonize with the prevalent binary black/white legal paradigm, rendering the controlling analytical legal paradigm a vehicle to atomize Latinas' /os' indivisible identities. Indeed, the dominant construct mis/constructs the Latina/o identity by essentializing it -- thus contributing to the culture clashes within us. The final section of the essay, "Reality Checks," proposes that LatCrit's hope is in the embracing of a non-essentialist model, one that incorporates the notion of the indivisibility of identity components -- a concept borrowed from international human rights norms -- and takes a global, rather than a parochial, perspective on rights.