The Social Construction of Latino Childhood in the New South
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Childhood in the United States, and in the American South more particularly, has several well-known and popularized constructions, typically divided by social class and ethnic identity. More specifically, Southern childhood is constructed as an either white or black experience, with one’s social world being extremely ethnically segregated in either case. Over the last several decades, as a post-NAFTA immigration boom has brought several generations of Latinos into the American South (in part because of these shifting demographics, the area is now often called the “New South”), this bifurcated popular conceptualization of childhood has been disrupted by the growing presence of Latino children in Southern schools and communities. Building upon Vygotsky’s premise that identity (including ethnic identity) is constructed through a cultural-historical lens, we here use the nascent literature on Latino education in the New South to outline an initial construction of Southern Latino childhood.