In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Architecture

  • Introduction
  • Border as Architecture: Rasquachification and Chicana/o/x Aesthetics in the United States
  • The Special Case of Architecture in Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican Diaspora
  • Cuban Diaspora in Miami and Beyond: Exile and Modernism
  • Transnational Futures: Broader Caribbean, Central American, and South American Currents in Latina/o/x Architecture
  • Latina/o/x Placemaking and Vernacular Architecture in Urban Space
  • Latina/o/x Architectural Practices, History, and Theory in the Expanded Field

Latino Studies Architecture
Joseph Hartman
  • LAST REVIEWED: 23 March 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 March 2022
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199913701-0269


This bibliography addresses the discourse between Latina/o/xs and various architectural and spatial traditions. In the architectural context of the United States, Latina/o/x communities have struggled to carve a space for themselves, sometimes described as a third, subaltern, or alter/native space. Peoples of Latin American descent have experienced persecution in certain architectural settings, operating in consort with state strategies to stereotype, relegate, and criminalize Latina/o/x bodies. Examples here include the border wall dividing the United States and Mexico, urban development projects that segregate and displace historic populations, prison systems holding disproportionate numbers of minorities, and border facilities designed to control and contain immigrant communities. State-sponsored violence—witnessed historically in public lynchings during the 19th century and police brutality used to suppress the Chicano Movement of the 1960s—has likewise produced a feeling that architectural environments, particularly those in the public sphere, remain out of reach for Latina/o/xs. Yet, the architectural history of Latina/o/xs can be said to precede the formation of the United States by more than a thousand years, particularly if we consider the broader history of architecture in the Americas and the Caribbean. It is a history that reaches back to ancient monumental sites of Indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica, the Andes, Amazon, Caribbean, and US Southwest. It projects forward through Spanish and Portuguese urbanization during the colonial period, including African influences that accompanied the trauma of slavery in the Americas after 1492, and Asian material cultures that followed indentured laborers during the 19th century. It is a history that moves forward through nationalist beaux-arts and neoclassic works of the 19th and early 20th centuries into the international modernist styles of the mid- to late 20th century, associated with notable architects like Luis Barragán of Mexico and Oscar Niemeyer of Brazil, among many others. Those architects of the modern era produced spaces that would include multiple publics in a bid to rethink national identities in places like Brazil, Cuba, and Mexico. Haunted by the socio-racial and gendered hierarchies of the colonial era, modern architects strove toward utopic decolonial solutions in the built environment. We might productively place Latina/o/x architecture within those histories of the wider hemisphere, as a facet of that striving toward a decolonial future. There are political, cultural, and historical reasons, however, to study Latina/o/x architecture on its own terms. To do so requires us to critically assess the limits of categories like “Latin American” and “Latina/o/x,” which are often confused, disputed, and in flux. These categories impossibly encompass huge and diverse populations. The term “Latin American” attempts to define peoples and cultures across the Spanish-, French-, and Portuguese-speaking Americas and Caribbean, while “Latina/o/x” describes members of the Latin American diaspora, particularly in the United States. Within these shifting terms of inclusion and exclusion, Latin American architecture has received notably more attention in scholarly literature, to the detriment of Latina/o/x contributions. This is, in part, because of historic discrimination faced by immigrants from Latin America in the United States and elsewhere. It also reveals a lacuna in histories of architecture more broadly, and the practice of architecture itself, which has tended to be dominated by heteronormative, white, Anglo-male norms and narratives. In the early 21st century, Latina/o/xs account for less than 10 percent of registered architects in the United States according to the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Nonetheless, with a population at nearly 40 million, Latina/o/xs are the largest minority group in the United States, projected to comprise a quarter of the population by the year 2050. The lack of representation in the field of architecture, compared to demographic realities, makes clear why the study of Latina/o/x architecture is of critical importance. The following bibliography works against social and historical factors that would ignore or erase Latina/o/xs from architectural discourse. This bibliography will focus on major works of scholarship that discuss Latina/o/xs as both users and producers of architecture. Special attention is paid to the ethnic and cultural diversity of Latina/o/x architecture, from the largest historic populations of Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Cuba to the vernacular building practices and decolonial aesthetics of an increasingly transcultural and transregional Latina/o/x population.

The Art-Architecture Nexus of the Southwestern United States and US-Mexico Border

The following sections reconsider the space, politics, and visual representations of the US-Mexico border and the American Southwest with an emphasis on Chicana/o/x aesthetics (a self-chosen designation for activists, architects, and artists of Mexican descent). The southwestern border is home to a unique array of historic populations of Mexican, Spanish, and Indigenous descent, who occupied much of the land west of the Mississippi for centuries before the United States gained possession of the territory by force following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. The following books, articles, and manifestos examine the region’s deep-rooted architectural history, as they also attend to more recent transformations brought through migrant communities from Mexico and other parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.

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