In May, the international Latin American Studies Association (LASA) awarded Dolores Inés Casillas, associate professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies at UCSB, an honorable mention for Best Monograph in Latino Studies for her book, Sounds of Belonging: U.S. Spanish-Language Radio and Public Advocacy. Casillas will also receive an Annual Book Award from the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE) at a Costa Mesa conference next March.
Casillas’ book analyzes the relatively overlooked but pivotal role of Spanish airwaves in uniting the Latino community. Sounds of Belonging is the first book discussing Spanish-language radio that has been published since 1978. In her analysis, Casillas asserts that the radio is a key discursive agent through which Latinos can share information.
Casillas concludes that because the radio remains the most accessible and convenient channel of communication among Latinos, it plays an integral role in community building and solidarity. In an interview with the UCSB Current, Casillas said the radio in the Latino household is “like an acoustic ally. It’s something they listen to all day.”
The current political setting has also resounded Casillas’ ideas. Her analysis explains that Latinos do not influence the political process much, but they are able to participate and respond to political rhetoric through the radio. In the same interview, she notes that the radio “allows us a space to talk about issues.” In regard to Donald Trump, she says, “[Latinos on the radio] make jokes, and that’s powerful. Laughter is powerful, so it creates a space to pretend you’re not the little guy.” Her book ultimately highlights the potential of Spanish-language radio to stimulate more Latino political participation.