Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2000


Published in Great Plains Research 10 (Fall 2000). Copyright © 2000 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


As a result of major demographic changes in the Hispanic community of the United States and throughout the world, Jorge Gracia argues that the time has come for Hispanics to begin a philosophical process of reflection about who they are as individuals and as members of the larger global population. In his estimation, the outcomes of this reflection will affect us all and determine the future of humanity.

At the core of his philosophical perspective is Gracia's "theory of historical relevance," which perceives and interprets Hispanic/Latino identity as a family tied by changing historical relations that in turn generate particular properties distinguishing this ethnic group from others in particular contexts. These unique meshes of changing historical relations are assumed to clothe the salient elements of Hispanic/Latino identity. Borrowing Wittgenstein's family metaphor, Gracia believes that like a family, the history of Hispanics is that of a group of people, a community, united by historical events originating in the Iberian Peninsula in 1492. Gracia rejects any essentialist view of Hispanic/Latino identity that seeks to embrace a homogenous grouping of Hispanics/ Latinos or to underscore common properties to distinguish them from other ethnic groups. The unfolding chapters include an examination of the origins and character of Hispanic philosophy, a Latin American philosophical identity, and the historical origins of mestizo identity and its significance to Hispanic/Latino identity.