Ilan Stavans

Recent Articles

Hispanic USA

We are witnessing the Hispanization of the United States, not the Americanization of Hispanics.

I t is a complex fate to be an American, James Baldwin used to say (quoting Henry James). "America's history," Baldwin wrote, "her aspirations, her peculiar triumphs, her even more peculiar defeats, and her position in the world--yesterday and today--are all so profoundly and stubbornly unique that the very word 'America' remains a new, almost completely undefined and extremely controversial proper noun." More than two decades after Baldwin wrote these words in Nobody Knows My Name , the rise of multiculturalism, which perceives the melting pot as a soup of diverse and at times incompatible backgrounds, has made the meaning of America even more elusive and abstract. Of course, Baldwin was talking about America the nation; but America is also a vast continent. From Alaska to Argentina, from Rio de Janeiro to East Los Angeles, the geography Christopher Columbus mistakenly encountered in 1492 and Amerigo Vespucci baptized a few years later is also a linguistic and cultural multiplicity...