The Emotional Toll of Anti-Immigrant and Anti-Latino Political Rhetoric
6:00 p.m. Doors open, light reception in lobby
6:30 p..m. Presentation begins in auditorium
Political rhetoric can elicit strong emotions and influence stress levels, a sense of well-being, and even perceptions of health status. Demographic trends over the last 40 years have led fears about immigration and the “browning of America,” which frames much current political rhetoric. I examine the effect of this rhetoric on emotions, stress, health, and well-being for its targets, in this case Americans of Mexican origin. Negative rhetoric can elicit both emotions such as pain, sadness, hurt, and anger. It is about the construction of stigmatized individuals and groups, represented as “outsiders” and as “underserving.” Positive political rhetoric can have a salutatory psychological effect. It elicits “sighs of relief,” with participants feeling proud, happy, and as contributors, in short, affirming participants’ sense of self, family, and place in the larger society. –Leo Chavez
Leo Chavez, Ph.D., is a professor of anthropology at the University of California, Irvine, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on immigration, international migration, culture and visual images, and medical anthropology. His current research examines the effects of political rhetoric, especially anti-Latino and anti-immigrant rhetoric, on emotions and psychological well-being. Chavez is the author of Shadowed Lives: Undocumented Immigrants in American Society; Covering Immigration: Popular Images and the Politics of the Nation; The Latino Threat: Constructing Immigrants, Citizens, and the Nation; and Anchor Babies and the Challenge of Birthright Citizenship. Chavez was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2017.
This lecture is sponsored in part by the Mellon Foundation: