Maria Raquel Casas


Maria Raquel Casas, PhD, is a graduate of Yale University, has taught at the University of Wisconsin, Madison as a visiting professor, and is Associate Professor of History at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is the author of the book Married to a Daughter of the Land: Interethnic Marriages in California, 1820-1880. Her article “Victoria Reid and the Politics of Identity” was included in the Latina Legacies: Identity, Biography, and Community. She has also written various entries for Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia.

Photo credit: Bobbie-Ann Howell



Since the earliest days of American cinema, Latino actors have appeared on the silver screen. They have ranged from those who took uncredited roles in silent movies, to early stars like Ramon Navarro, Dolores del Rio, and Lupe Velez, to today’s big hitters like Jennifer Lopez and Eva Mendes. But whether famous or unknown, the experience of the Latino in Hollywood has been repeatedly marked by discrimination and stereotyping. In a presentation rich in the use of film excerpts, historian Maria Raquel Casas traces the ways in which Latinos have been cinematically represented throughout history up to and including the present day, and examines how the options for Latino actors have changed over the years. She also explores certain formulaic representations of Latinos, such as the Latin lover or the Latina spit-fire, as well as the themes of ethnic identity and concepts of “whiteness,” in order to better understand the extent to which Latinos have helped to change how America “sees” Latinos within the nation’s culture.

Appropriate Audience:  Adults; high school students; can be adapted for younger audiences.

Duration: Approximately 1 hour.

Presenter Requirements: 

  • Means for screening film excerpts and digital presentation (Presenter will bring own laptop).

If equipment indicated above is unavailable, please discuss alternatives with Presenter.

Available in Spanish

Categories: Film, Latino Culture and Interest, Spanish