Latinization: A Cultural History of Latinos' Contributions
to Central Arizona
The purpose of this presentation is to demonstrate how the Mesa
Southwest Museum, which I am associated with, intends to utilize
its position as a respected cultural institution to examine
the role of Latinos in central Arizona.
The City of Mesa is a conservative town established by
Mormons in the mid-nineteenth century. Over the decades more
Latinos moved to Mesa. At least 20% of Mesa's current population
of almost 400,000 is Latino. However, this Latino presence
is not visible within the City. Clearly, two separate worlds
coexist with little or no integration.
The method in which I intend to address the role of Latinos
in central Arizona is through an exhibit entitled, Latinization:
A Cultural History of Latinos' Contributions to Central Arizona.
Why use an exhibit to address this pertinent issue? My
reason is three-fold.
First, a museum must reflect its constituents, as a museum
professional, I am a firm believer that a cultural institution,
like the Mesa Southwest Museum, needs to present a forum for
social issues that directly affect the audiences it represents.
Secondly, people who go to museums trust the information
they are getting is factual and accurate. This trust enhances
a museum's opportunity to educate the public.
Finally, this topic is regarded as a "sensitive"
issue and its examination will challenge conventional points
of views. I think the most effective way of presenting this
topic is through a structured and dynamic exhibit with the
potential of reaching various audiences.
It is my goal that this exhibit encourages the citizens
and employees of Mesa and the Phoenix metro area to reevaluate
their attitudes toward Latinos; challenge existing perceptions
of Latinos; and see that we are indeed an integral part of
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