Inventing Latinos

A New Story of American Racism

An NPR Best Book of the Year, exploring the impact of Latinos’ new collective racial identity on the way Americans understand race, with a new afterword by the author

“A rigorous and provocative study. Required reading.” —Library Journal (starred review)

Named one of the Best Books of the Year by NPR

Who are Latinos and where do they fit in America’s racial order? In this “timely and important examination of Latinx identity” (Ms.), Laura E. Gómez, a leading critical race scholar, argues that it is only recently that Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, Central Americans, and others are seeing themselves (and being seen by others) under the banner of a cohesive racial identity. And the catalyst for this emergent identity, she argues, has been the ferocity of anti-Latino racism.

In what Booklist calls “an incisive study of history, complex interrogation of racial construction, and sophisticated legal argument,” Gómez “packs a knockout punch” (Publishers Weekly), illuminating for readers the fascinating race-making, unmaking, and re-making processes that Latinos have undergone over time, indelibly changing the way race functions in this country.

Building on the “insightful and well-researched” (Kirkus Reviews) material of the original, the paperback features a new afterword in which the author analyzes results of the 2020 Census, providing brilliant, timely insight about how Latinos have come to self-identify.


“Gómez reveals that history is not past. Instead, she shows us that as racism evolves, the U.S. commitment to racism remains steady, creating, but never quite controlling, Latinos as a distinct racial group. But if racism’s allure continues to tug powerfully at some segments of the United States, Inventing Latinos reveals that creative resistance is never far away.”
—César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, author of Migrating to Prison
“Written with exceptional clarity and drawing on deep research, Inventing Latinos presents not only a brilliant account of the changing position of Latinxs, but also a nuanced understanding of racism in the U.S. today.”
—Howard Winant, co-author of Racial Formation in the United States
“In this thoughtfully argued study . . . Gómez provides much-needed insight into the true complexity of Latinx identity while revealing the ways in which the dominant culture continues to mask the many racist currents within American society. An insightful and well-researched book.”
Kirkus Reviews
“[A] timely and important examination of Latinx identity.”
“In her pioneering book, Laura Gómez puts racism, colonialism, white dominance, and community resistance exactly where they should be: at the heart of the conversations about Latinos today, and the nature of race in the United States tomorrow.”
—Ian F. Haney López
“The critically important story of Latinx racial formation told here requires the impressive skills and knowledge of a scholar like Gómez. Inventing Latinos is informed by a hemispheric sweep centered on U.S. empire, an ability to trace history over centuries, and an appreciation of class relations and power.”
—David Roediger, author of How Race Survived U.S. History
Inventing Latinos offers a unique road map for understanding how Latino identity came to be, and where it might be going. Gómez’s discussion of how Latin America’s mestizaje, or mixed-race ideology, is both perpetuated and sometimes re-purposed in the U.S. is one of the book’s many strengths.”
—Ed Morales, author of Latinx and Fantasy Island
“A[n] incisive study of history, complex interrogation of racial construction, and sophisticated legal argument, this title proves especially timely, what with the controversial 2020 census on its way, and expands brilliantly on the work Gómez began in Manifest Destinies: The Making of the Mexican American Race.
“This incisive survey of Latino history packs a knockout punch.”
Publishers Weekly
“[Inventing Latinos] offers a significant and fresh examination of a topical subject—racism in our country.”
Albuquerque Journal

News and Reviews

New Books Network

Listen to an interview with author Laura Gómez about Inventing Latinos on New Books in Latino Studies


Read an op-ed by author Laura Gómez in Medium’s KNOCK about the Supreme Courts recent DACA decision that failed to go far enough.

Publishers Weekly

Read a review of Inventing Latinos in Publishers Weekly.

Goodreads Reviews