Center of Mexican American Studies
Center of Mexican American Studies

2015 Américo Paredes Distinguished Lecture

The Center for Mexican American Studies (CMAS) and the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies (MALS) are pleased to announce that Lisa García Bedolla, Ph.D., will give the 2015 Américo Paredes Distinguished Lecture on Monday, April 27, 2015.  The title of the lecture is, "Latino Political Engagement and the Future of U.S. Politics."

After the 2012 election, there was much talk among political pundits about the importance of the Latino vote for both major U.S. political parties. Yet, by 2014, the conversation had flipped, with President Obama bowing to pressure from fellow Democrats not to provide administrative relief to unauthorized immigrants, under the assumption that showing support for Latino immigrants would hurt Democrats’ chances to retain control of the U.S. Senate.

These assumptions about Latino political power stem from one source: voter turnout. Latino turnout in presidential elections is always significantly higher than in midterm elections and is concentrated in areas that matter for presidential politics. Thus, in 2014, it is likely that the Latino vote will suddenly be seen as powerful again.

But, this ebb and flow in pundits’ focus on Latino voters ignores a critical question – what is the best way to understand Latino political engagement patterns in the United States? In this lecture, Professor García Bedolla attempts to answer that question, using what we know about Latino politics to develop a new framework for thinking about Latino political engagement, one that does not use white voter behavior as the norm but rather considers Latino participation patterns as a rational response to their history of exclusion and subordination in the United States. She then considers what such an reorientation would mean for the future of U.S. democratic politics.

Lisa García Bedolla is Chancellor’s Professor of education and political science at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research interests center on the political and educational inequalities affecting ethnoracial groups in the United States, with a particular focus on the intersections of race, class, and gender. She is author of several award-winning books. One of her most recent, Mobilizing Inclusion: Transforming the Electorate through Get-Out-the-Vote Campaigns (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012), won the American Political Science Association’s Ralph Bunche Award and a best book award from APSA's Race, Ethnicity, and Politics Section.  Professor García Bedolla received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University and her B.A. in Latin American Studies and Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley.