Latino Studies New Jersey
Yolanda Prieto
  • LAST REVIEWED: 21 January 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 21 January 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199913701-0108


Latinos have been in New Jersey since the 1850s, but it was not until the 1950s and 1960s that the number of Hispanics rose significantly. Today a great variety of Latin groups are found in New Jersey and they have influenced the culture of the state. The Latino presence in New Jersey has to be understood in the context of general migration to the United States. Why do people leave their countries of origin to move to a completely different setting? Do economic reasons compel them to leave? Is it political upheavals or fear of persecution back home? Much of the research on Latino migration to New Jersey and to the country has focused on economic reasons that lead migrants to relocate, as in the case of Puerto Ricans and many from South and Central America, or on political reasons, as in the case of Cubans and others from South and Central America. More recently, scholars have coined the term transnationalism in efforts to understand the relations that migrants have with their countries of origin. Frequent travel back and forth, increased communication, and sending remittances back to their country reveal a much more dynamic picture, one that shows immigrants, in fact, belong to two homes. What is true, however, is that the presence of Latinos in New Jersey is changing the way we look and experience politics, economic development and cultural practices.

General Overviews and Related Books and Articles

Much of the research on Latinos in New Jersey has focused on the push and pull factors that account for the decision of migrants to migrate, namely, difficult conditions in the homeland push people away from their countries of origin and pull factors, such as jobs, attract them to the country of destination. The Textbooks that are cited treat push and pull factors in migration as they relate to Latinos and other migrants locally and nationally. Regarding New Jersey, Cunningham 1977 and Vecoli 1965 continue to be classics on the history of immigration to the state. Recently, anthropologists and sociologists have developed the concept of transnationalism. For example, Duany 2011 explores transnational migration between the Hispanic Caribbean and the United States. Transnational analyses do not take the nation-state as the point of departure in migratory movements. Rather, scholars of transnationalism focus on the connections between those who migrate and those who remain in the country of origin. The traffic of people, money, and possessions defines the formation of transnational communities. These processes are present much more frequently today than in the past, in great part, due to the development of advanced technologies and means of transportation. Many transnational communities continue to participate in the politics of their countries of origin.

  • Augenbraum, Harold, and Ilan Stavans. Growing Up Latino: Memoirs and Stories. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1993.

    This is a collection of Latin life stories, memories, and other accounts. Some of the topics explored include religion, sex, love, and language. This work questions the myth of a homogeneous Latino tradition and exposes a very diverse and rich tradition. The memory by Judith Ortiz Cofer takes place in New Jersey.

  • Bischoff, Henry. “New Jersey.” In Latino America: A State-by-State Encyclopedia. Edited by Mark Overmyer-Velázquez, 531–548. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2008.

    A detailed and historical account of Latinos in New Jersey from 1850 to 2005. Discussion of motives for migration of major groups.

  • Cunningham, Barbara, ed. The New Jersey Ethnic Experience. Union City, NJ: Wm. H. Wise, 1977.

    An overview of New Jersey’s rich ethnic experience beginning with a discussion of the Lenni Lenapi Indians, followed by immigration of groups in the early 20th century, to a look at contemporary migration to the state, in particular Hispanic migrants.

  • Duany, Jorge. Blurred Borders: Transnational Migration between the Hispanic Caribbean and the United States. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011.

    DOI: 10.5149/9780807869376_duany

    A comparative examination of Cuban, Dominican, and Puerto Rican transnational behaviors. Duany explores how migrants from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico maintain multiple ties to their countries of origin. Duany includes New Jersey as one of the “transnational places” in his discussion.

  • Pedraza, Silvia, and Rubén G. Rumbaut. Origins and Destinies: Immigration, Race, and Ethnicity in America. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1996.

    A collection of articles on immigration to the United States with emphasis on the role of race and ethnicity in the process of incorporation to American life. New Jersey is discussed as a destination place and place of settlement of various groups.

  • Rodriguez, Clara. Changing Race: Latinos, the Census and the History of Ethnicity. New York: New York University Press, 2000.

    A combination of historical analyses, personal interviews, and a detailed study of census data on how Latinos fit into America’s divided racial landscape.

  • Sánchez-Korrol, Virginia. From Colonia to Community: The History of the Puerto Ricans in New York City. 2d ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.

    Full-length study of the history of the Puerto Rican community in the United States. Describes the developments of colonias (Puerto Rican settlements beyond New York) and their rise to become today’s unique communities.

  • Vecoli, Rudolph J. The People of New Jersey. Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand, 1965.

    A full and historical account of the ethnic composition of New Jersey. Includes all ethnic groups that constituted the state up until 1965, including Hispanics.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.