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Latinos and the Liberal City

Latinos and the Liberal City

Politics and Protest in San Francisco

by Eduardo Contreras

11 illus.

  • Paperback
  • 9781512823677
  • Published: July 2022

$26.50

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  • Hardcover
  • 9780812251128
  • Published: March 2019

$49.95

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The "Latino vote" has become a mantra in political media, as journalists, pundits, and social scientists regularly weigh in on Latinos' loyalty to the Democratic Party and the significance of their electoral participation. But how and why did Latinos' liberal orientation take hold? What has this political inclination meant—and how has it unfolded—over time?

In Latinos and the Liberal City, Eduardo Contreras addresses these questions, offering a bold, textured, and inclusive interpretation of the nature and character of Latino politics in America's shifting social and cultural landscape. Contreras argues that Latinos' political life and aspirations have been marked by diversity and contestation yet consistently influenced by the ideologies of liberalism and latinidad: while the principles of activist government, social reform, freedom, and progress sustained liberalism, latinidad came to rest on promoting unity and commonality among Latinos.

Contreras centers this compelling narrative on San Francisco—America's liberal city par excellence—examining the role of its Latino communities in local politics from the 1930s to the 1970s. By the early twentieth century, San Francisco's residents of Latin American ancestry traced their heritage to nations including Mexico, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chile, and Peru. These communities formed part of the New Deal coalition, defended workers' rights with gusto, and joined the crusade for racial equality decades before the 1960s. In the mid- to late postwar era, Latinos expanded claims for recognition and inclusion while participating in movements and campaigns for socioeconomic advancement, female autonomy, gay liberation, and rent control. Latinos and the Liberal City makes clear that the local public sphere nurtured Latinos' political subjectivities and that their politicization contributed to the vibrancy of San Francisco's political culture.