Arefreshing new concept has emerged in academic circles and beyond: to live in the cultural hyphen, to inhabit the borderland. Nowhere is the debate surrounding it more candid and more historically enlightening than among Hispanics in the United States. . ..

In the 1960s and ’70s, most Latino intellectuals resisted the very idea of integration into mainstream American culture. Influenced by Juan Gómez-Quiñones, dean of Chicano history, the discussion centered on what theoreticians called “negative assimilation.” Immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries, it was asserted, wanted to retain their ancestral heritage against all odds and costs; their daily existence in the United States was a painful chain of struggles against the Anglo-Saxon milieu. . .. The Chicano movement, inspired by César Chávez and Rodolfo González (among others) and linked to protests for Black power and against the Vietnam War, became, for many Latinos, the apex of...

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