In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section History of Latino/a Philosophy

  • Introduction
  • Introductory Works and Edited Volumes
  • Special Journal Editions
  • Pre-Colombian Philosophy
  • Independence Period (1750–1850)
  • Positivism (1850–1910)

Latino Studies History of Latino/a Philosophy
Elizabeth Millán, Don T. Deere
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 April 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 April 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199913701-0118


Latina/o philosophy is a tradition of thought referring both to the work of many Latina/o philosophers in the United States and to a specific set of philosophical problems and method of questioning that relate to Latina/o identity, borders, immigration, gender, race, feminism, and decoloniality. “Latina/o philosophy” is used by some to refer also to Latin American philosophy practiced within Latin America and the United States (see Gracia 2008, cited under Introductory Works and Edited Volumes), while others argue that to maintain specificity Latina/o philosophy should only refer to a subset of Latin American philosophy. This entry considers both the general contours of Latina/o philosophy as it is situated with the history of Latin American philosophy and the specificity of a mode of philosophy that emerges from the practices and experiences of Latina/os writing and thinking within the United States. The emergence of Latina/o philosophy in the more restricted sense does not follow one simple trajectory, though a major portion of its legacy can be located in relation to the history of Latin American philosophy and its emergence as a field of study within the United States initiated by Hispanic and Latino/a philosophers. Latina/o philosophy is also shaped by major contributions from Latina feminism, and its diverse genealogy with ties to women of color and Third World feminisms in the United States (see for example the foundational work Moraga and Anzaldúa 1981, cited under Latina Feminisms). While Latina/o philosophy itself has more recently emerged in the United States, the history of Latin American philosophy that frames many of its questions and intersects with many of its key problems of identity and colonization begins in the wake of colonization of the Americas by the Spanish and Portuguese. This is not to say that there was no philosophy in the Americas until the Europeans colonized the region, but what we call Latin American philosophy is the product of colonization; and the colonial condition of Latin American philosophy is a theme that shapes much contemporary work in the area. The history of Latin American philosophy can be broken down into the following periods: the colonial period, Independence period, positivism, and the contemporary period. From the perspective of the history of Latina/o and Latin American philosophy, this article focuses upon contributions to the themes of cultural and philosophical identity, aesthetics, philosophical anthropology, feminism, Marxism, philosophy of liberation, decolonial thought, and subaltern studies. The contemporary period of Latin American philosophy intersects with Latina/o philosophy as the problem of identity migrates from Latin America to the United States. The appearance of the problem in the consciousness of philosophers in the United States changed the field of philosophy itself, shaping a new path within it and opening a new set of issues, as the selections discussed in this article indicate.

Introductory Works and Edited Volumes

As a major hurdle in the appreciation of the Latina/o and Latin American philosophical traditions has been the lack of scholarly editions, anthologies that point the reader to classical sources of Latin American philosophy are of great value along with those that point to newer debates in Latina/o thought. Gracia and Millán-Zaibert 2004 and Nuccetelli and Seay 2003 both provide a good set of basic readings in Latin American philosophy with solid historical contextualization that opens the field to the English-reading public, and Dussel, et al. 2009 is perhaps the best collection and overview of Latin American philosophy in Spanish and the only anthology that also includes Latina/o and Caribbean philosophy. It contains entries from almost all key thinkers, themes, and periods. Also important are companions or special issues of journals that provide the reader with scholarly analysis of the ideas that have shaped the Latin American philosophical tradition. Included here are some recent collections that serve as critical guideposts for the reader wanting to learn more about the Latin American philosophical tradition. Each overview is slightly different: some focus upon a particular literary form, as in Stavans 1997, with a focus on the essay. Others focus upon a particular problem; for example, Salles and Millán-Zaibert 2005 is a collection of essays that focuses on the problem of history in Latin American philosophy. In light of the close relation Latin American philosophy has to literature, Gracia and Camurati 1989, a collection of essays on philosophy and literature, is particularly valuable in presenting the Latin American philosophical tradition as one growing from and with a literary tradition. Mendieta 2003, a collection, provides an overview of current debates, while Nuccetelli, et al. 2013 as its pluralistic companion provides accounts of historical perspectives, current issues, and disciplinary developments that have shaped Latin American philosophy and philosophy in Latin America from the precolonial period to the present. Márquez 2008 and Vázquez 2009 offer excellent collections of a wide variety of writings on social and political movements, culture, and philosophy around recent Latin American and Latino/a issues. Gracia 2008 is a foundational text for raising philosophical questions of Latina/o identity.

  • Dussel, Enrique, Eduardo Mendieta, and Carmen Bohórquez, eds. El pensamiento filosofico latinoamericano, del Caribe y “latino” (1300–2000). Mexico City: Siglo XXI Editores, 2009.

    One of the most exhaustive collection and reference works and one of the only to bring together Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino philosophy with hundreds of short entries focusing on different themes, periods, and thinkers from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latina/os in the United States.

  • Gracia, Jorge J. E. Latinos in America: Philosophy and Social Identity. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2008.

    DOI: 10.1002/9780470696484

    A foundational text that analyzes philosophical questions of Latino identity. In section 3, “Latino/a Philosophy,” Gracia argues for a large conception of Latina/o philosophy that would include the work not only of Latina/os in the United States but also of Latina/os in Latin America, and the work of Latin American philosophy more generally.

  • Gracia, Jorge J. E., and Mireya Camurati, eds. Philosophy and Literature in Latin America: A Critical Assessment of the Current Situation. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1989.

    The first five essays in this collection focus on philosophy and offer overviews of the philosophical activity taking place in a variety of Latin American countries.

  • Gracia, Jorge J. E., and Elizabeth Millán-Zaibert, eds. Latin American Philosophy for the 21st Century: The Human Condition, Values, and the Search for Identity. Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2004.

    This anthology provides a selection of key texts in Latin American philosophy from the colonial period through the present, divided into four parts with helpful introductions to each section along with brief biographical sketches of each thinker featured.

  • Márquez, Iván, ed. Contemporary Latin American Social and Political Thought. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008.

    An anthology of key texts in philosophical, political, and social thought on Latin America; selections are from the 1980s and later.

  • Mendieta, Eduardo, ed. Latin American Philosophy: Current Issues, Debates. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.

    Features ten articles by leading contemporary scholars and philosophers along with a helpful introduction. Provides and situates some of the key issues and debates going on in the field today.

  • Nuccetelli, Susana, Ofelia Schutte, and Otávio Bueno, eds. A Companion to Latin American Philosophy. New York: Wiley, 2013.

    This companion provides the most comprehensive overview of the key themes, topics, debates, and thinkers in Latin American philosophy, featuring thirty-six articles by leading scholars in the field.

  • Nuccetelli, Susana, and Gary Seay, eds. Latin American Philosophy: An Introduction with Readings. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2003.

    Helpful anthology with a wide selection of primary texts from the pre-Colombian period up to the 20th century. Divided into seven sections with introductions to each section.

  • Salles, Arleen, and Elizabeth Millán-Zaibert, eds. The Role of History in Latin American Philosophy. Albany: SUNY Press, 2005.

    A collection of eight essays by contemporary Latin American scholars on the problem of history in and for Latin American philosophy. The introduction nicely situates the contributions.

  • Stavans, Ilan, ed. Latin American Essays. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

    An impressively broad and diverse collection of seventy-seven essays, translated from Spanish or Portuguese, from the period from 1849 to 1994. Helps bring appreciation to the literary form of the essay and its role in the Latin American philosophical tradition.

  • Vázquez, Francisco H., ed. Latino/a Thought: Culture, Politics, and Society. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2009.

    An excellent collection of key writers, thinkers, and activists in the Latino/a tradition.

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