Ethnic specularities: Exploring the Caribbean and Latino dimensions of Down These Mean Streets

Yolanda Martinez-San Miguel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This essay proposes a racial reinterpretation of Lacan's mirror stage to recover the Caribbean, insular and diasporic Puerto Rican, African American and Mexican American connections of Thomas's Down These Mean Streets. I close-read Piri's foundational sexual encounter with a white prostitute in Texas to explore the imbrications of colonialism and blackness in metropolitan racial discourses. I then study the important contribution of this novel by re-reading Thomas's scene in conversation with a series of racialized mirror scenes depicted in works by Frantz Fanon, Isabelo Zenón and Richard Rodriguez published between 1952 and 1981. The essay concludes by proposing a new framework for US Latino studies that is based on the comparative study of the relationality between racial discourses produced in the United States by ethnic subjects, and insular and diasporic Puerto Rican discourses on Afro-Caribbeanness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)358-375
Number of pages18
JournalLatino Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • ethnicity
  • mirror stage
  • Piri Thomas
  • relationality
  • specularity
  • US Latino literature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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