Hispanic/Latin@ Diversity and Identity
A new paradigm
By Ligia Lundine
What does being Hispanic/Latin@ mean to us? When it
comes time to express who we are, the richness of our culture
is evident more than ever. In this quest for answers to this
question, ¿Qué Pasa, OSU? has invited members
of the Hispanic/Latin@ community at Ohio State to speak about
the communitys diversity and identity. Instead of writing
an article about what we think Hispanic/Latin@ diversity encompasses,
we decided to open the door to opinions and explore a very
complex issue. But complexity is not necessarily bad, as long
as we are willing to transcend the barriers of our own definitions
and characterizations to embrace the views of others. Hopefully,
we enrich our own, or at least, understand our differences.
This is an ambitious goal, but we firmly believe that in
our journey toward progress in this country and elsewhere,
the Hispanic/Latin@ community has a unique opportunity. In
this university alone, a group of people with heritage or
direct descent from more than 26 countries can find interests
in common: sharing stories, language, food, traditions and
music as well as research and scholarly interests and opportunities.
How we identify ourselves will depend upon our own personal
experiences. In my case, after growing up and living most
of my life in Guatemala, my identity has been influenced by
a country where 24 different ethnic groups collide in a relatively
small territory (108,889 km²). More recently, as a bi-racial
couple settled in Columbus, my husband John (who was raised
in Ohio) and I have enriched our lives and the lives of our
families within a new paradigm. This new paradigm is constructed
with two languages, two cultures and two sets of stories.
As we move forward to unravel the challenges this paradigm
presents for us, we hope to find a convergence among the best
of our cultures. Last quarter, while doing research for my
thesis, I came across the scientific term edge effect
that describes this dynamic in an interesting way. Some researchers¹
have hypothesized that the interaction between diverse social
groups creates a process of interchange or cultural edge
effect that can be compared with the edge effect
of ecosystems, in which ecological edges show evidence of
high levels of productivity and species prosperity or biodiversity.
In other words, a diverse environment seems to promote productivity
more than a homogenous one.
In science, some researchers find themselves trying to break
out of paradigms so as to apply a specific term to encapsulate
a set of beliefs, assumptions, values, traditions and practices
in order to describe a way of viewing reality.²
Whatever the new paradigm we create for the Hispanic/Latin@
community at Ohio State, I hope our commonalities transcend
our differences and that the edge effect of our
environment helps us reach the maximum levels of productivity
¹Turner, J., Davidson-Hunt, I. J., OFlaherty,
M. (2003). Living on the Edge: Ecological and Cultural
Edges as Sources of Diversity for Social-Ecological Resilience.
Human Ecology. 31 (3): 439-461
²Source: www.dictionary.com 2005.