Interviews from bicycle tour become book about Latino experience

Facebook Twitter More...

Louis Mendoza

Back in 2007, I posted a story here about a professor who took a 6-month leave from the University of Minnesota to study how Latino immigration is changing the United States.

The unique aspect for me was that he did much of his work from the saddle of his touring bicycle. Louis Mendoza pedaled nearly 7,000 miles on his perimeter travels around the country to talk with Latinos from all walks of life.

He conducted many interviews, and they’ve been compiled into a book scheduled for release this summer:  Conversations Across Our America: Talking About Immigration and the Latinoization of the United States (Joe R).

This is a timely topic; it may shed some understanding and cool some of the acrimony swirling around the issue of immigration. According to publicity for the book:

“Interviewees reflect upon the concerns and fears they’ve encountered about the transformation of the national culture, and they relate their own experiences of living and working as “other” in the United States. Mendoza’s collection is unique in its vastness….

“They are male and female, young and old, affluent and impoverished. Many are political, striving to change the situation of Latina/os in this country, but others are “everyday people,” reflecting upon their lives in this country and on the lives they left behind. Mendoza’s inclusion of this broad swath of voices begins to reflect the diverse nature of Latino immigration in the United States today.”

At the time in 2007, Mendoza said undertaking the bike tour as a “life-transforming experience” and because he was “more likely to have unpredictable experiences” bicycling down the road.

Mendoza is now chairman of the Department of Chicano Studies and vice provost to the Office of Equity and Diversity at the University of Minnesota.

He recently spoke at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where a reporter at the student newspaper wrote:

In his travels and encounters with immigrants and the “broader public,” he said he gained new insight to migrants’ decisions to leave home and risk life in “el Norte” (the North).

“I witnessed, first hand, what it was like to be considered a problem,” he said, adding migrants and the industries that rely on migrant labor thrive in a mutually beneficial relationship.”

Many of his interviews are posted in videos at his blog, A Journey Across America.

Permanent link to this article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.