When Latinos are not Latinos: The case of Guatemalan Maya in the United States, the Southeast and Georgia


History and Philosophy

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2012


During recent decades, Maya have fled Guatemala to escape violence and poverty, and currently large numbers of Maya live throughout the United States. Maya bring with them memories of being oppressed by dominant Hispanic groups in their homelands, and sometimes they hide Indian identity. This article is based on my interaction over a 10-year period with several hundred Maya around the United States who had maintained Maya identity and rejected Latinidad. I argue for a more in-depth discussion about the definition of Latinidad as it applies to indigenous groups, in particular as a prerequisite to questioning whether individuals should be categorized as Latino, regardless of their desire to self-define as Maya, rather than Latino.