My book, Latinos at the Golden Gate, is a history of Latinos in San Francisco—the first book written about this important community in the city by the bay. It was a true labor of love for me to research and write. Professionally speaking, it represents the end of a long road, so, as you can imagine, I am very so excited to be able to finally share it with you.
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Born in an explosive boom and built through distinct economic networks, San Francisco has a cosmopolitan character that often masks the challenges migrants faced to create community in the city by the bay. Latin American migrants have been part of the city’s story since its beginning. Charting the development of a hybrid Latino identity forged through struggle–latinidad–from the Gold Rush through the civil rights era, Tomás F. Summers Sandoval Jr. chronicles the rise of San Francisco’s diverse community of Latin American migrants.
This latinidad, Summers Sandoval shows, was formed and made visible on college campuses and in churches, neighborhoods, movements for change, youth groups, protests, the Spanish-language press, and business districts. Using diverse archival sources, Summers Sandoval gives readers a panoramic perspective on the transformation of a multinational, multigenerational population into a visible, cohesive, and diverse community that today is a major force for social and political activism and cultural production in California and beyond.
Latinos at the Golden Gate exposes and analyzes pan-Latin American community and identity-building processes in the urban West as conscious and deliberate responses to a shifting context framed geographic dislocation, trans-hemispheric commerce, enclosure within new racial and gender hierarchies, economic instability, and social and political segregation. Structured in material ways by the complex interconnections between San Francisco and distinct parts of Latin America, the experiences detailed in Latinos at the Golden Gate comprise a social history of U.S. empire as experienced in and through the discrete setting of an urban locale. In this city–one that has constructed itself as the capital of the “Pacific empire” and, alternately, as an exception in the field of urban American social relations–a fluid and hybrid culture of latinidad emerges as a function of specific commercial and industrial structures, processes of urban racial formation, as well as struggles for community survival.
“Tomás Summers Sandoval brings much needed attention to the social history and lived experiences of Latinos in the region and draws special attention to the histories of political activism and political resistance that have been critical to San Francisco’s development. His new book fills one of the largest holes in Latino historiography and helps readers of all stripes to better understand the centrality of Latinos in the making of the city.” (Stephen J. Pitti, Yale University)
“Tomás Summers Sandoval offers a fresh and much-needed interpretation of Latina/o community and identity formation in the United States. This major work fills a tremendous void in scholarship.” (Matt Garcia, Arizona State University)