Michael Rodríguez-Muñiz, "Figures of the Future: Latino Civil Rights and the Politics of Demographic Change" (Princeton UP, 2021)

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Figures of the Future: Latino Civil Rights and the Politics of Demographic Change (Princeton UP, 2021) examines the “contemporary population politics of national Latino civil rights advocacy.” The book challenges readers to generally understand democratic projections as problematic, political, and manufactured -- and specifically consider the case of how prominent Latino civil rights groups used such projections during the Obama and Trump administrations to “accelerate the when of Latino political power.” Groups like UnidosUS, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and Voto Latino believed that they could mobilize demographic data about the growing Latino population to increase political recognition and respect -- hoping to unify and inspire. But Figures of the Future urges us to be attentive to the manner in which projected demographics can be “objects of aspiration” but also weaponized and sources of frustration. Deploying three main sources of data (participation observation, interviewing, and the collection of primary material) Dr. Michael Rodríguez-Muñiz asks us to see that “it is politics -- not demography -- that governs what we think and feel about ethnoracial demographic change.” We don’t need better data -- we need a more critical and vigilant eye to the political phenomenon.

Dr. Michael Rodríguez-Muñiz is an assistant professor of sociology and Latina/Latino studies at Northwestern University.

Daniella Campos assisted with and helped inspire this podcast.

Susan Liebell is Dirk Warren '50 Professor of Political Science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

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