Don Juan and Rebels under Palm Trees: Depictions of Latin Americans in US History Textbooks

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education, Latin Americans, Latinos, pedagogy, stereotypes, textbooks, United States

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In this article I call for an anthropological analysis of the formal curriculum in K-12 schools as it relates to the depiction of ethnic and national `others'. Since children are continually in the process of developing their social construction of the world, it stands to reason that the information they receive about culture and ethnicity is important in that development. Considering that the school textbook is the most often used instructional resource in the classroom, data regarding the world's cultures and ethnicities contained therein are likely to have a significant impact on students' evolving social constructs. This article surveys the most popular `American History' texts used in the United States to determine how Latinos and Latin Americans are portrayed, what and whose values are advanced, and to what extent the histories of these peoples are included and incorporated into the history of the United States. A content analysis reveals that school history textbooks tend to portray Latin Americans as alternately violent, passive, lazy and unwilling to assimilate into mainstream US society — when they are included at all. There is also a brief discussion on the role of the textbook in American education and the politics of textbook selection and adoption.

Citation / Publisher Attribution

Critique of Anthropology, v. 22, issue 3, p. 323-342

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