Smithsonian Center for Lation Initiatives
The Interpretation and Representation of Latino Cultures: Research and Museums Conference Documentation
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Docog, Angelica

Challenging Traditional Curatorial Practices

Historicizing Narratives

Borders and Diasporas

Aesthetics Beauty

The Body: The Real and the Symbolic

All Abstracts

Discussions

Bibliography

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 central Arizona.

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