Globe, Migrants, Multiculture, United Kingdom

Narratives of Latin American migration in the UK

Two women, immigrants, have combined their experience to analyze in depth the reasons and characteristics of the Latin American diaspora in this country. They have written a book based on the voices of various immigrants. They will talk about it on October 7 and their talk is part of the London Spanish Book & Zine Fair 2020.


The displacement of the inhabitants of the South American and Central American continent has a long history since the beginning of the 19th century when they began to visit British lands.

However, the great diaspora occurs in the 1970s when different dictatorships took over the governments of the region and the repression and assassinations caused thousands of people to leave their country.

Then came study factors, economic needs, seeking political asylum or simply the idea of ​​making a better life for themselves and also helping their own who stayed in their country. The truth is that in general, political and economic factors are those that have pushed Latin Americans to leave their homeland.

There is no exact number to represent living figures in the UK, but it is estimated to be around 200,000 Latin Americans. According to the “No Longer Invisible” report, there were 186,500 in 2010.

In the United Kingdom there are several experiences to understand  the migration of this continent .  Now, Patria Román-Velázquez and Jessica Retis have managed to do so, through their book “Narratives of migration, relocation and belonging”.

It is a publication that “that gives voices to the diverse diasporic Latin American communities living in the UK by exploring first and onward migration of Latin Americans to Europe, with a specific reference to London”.

The authors discuss how networks of solidarity and local struggles are played out, enacted, negotiated and experienced in different spatial spheres, whether this be migration routes into London, work spaces, diasporic media and urban places.

Each of these spaces are explored in separate chapters to argue that transnational networks of solidarity and local struggles are facilitating renewed sense of belonging and claims to the city. In this context we witness manifestations of British Latinidad that invoke new forms of belonging beyond and against old colonial powers.

The authors

Patria Román-Velázquez is a Senior Lecturer in the Institute for Media and Creative Industries at Loughborough University London. She is a sociology and communication specialist with an interest in urban communication, migrant and ethnic economies and urban regeneration. Her research is framed around theories of globalisation, cities, place and identity mainly through ethnographic research with Latin Americans in London.

Her current research interrogates the impact of urban regeneration and urban planning policy frameworks for London’s migrant and ethnic economies. Patria is the author of the book “The making of Latin London: salsa music, place and identity” (1999); co-author of “Narratives of migration, relocation and belonging: Latin Americans in London” (2020); and has published articles in a number of journals and edited collections.

She is also founder and Chair of Trustees at Latin Elephant, CIO, a charity that works with migrant and ethnic groups, and Latin Americans in particular, to increase inclusion, engagement and participation in processes of urban change in London.

Jessica Retis is Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and Director of the Master’s in Bilingual Journalism at the University of Arizona.

She is affiliated with the Faculty through the Center for Latin American Studies and the Human Rights Practice Program at UA. Retis holds a Major in Communications (University of Lima, Peru), a Masters in Latin American Studies (National Autonomous University of Mexico) and a Ph.D. in Contemporary Latin America (Complutense University of Madrid, Spain).

She has almost two decades of professional experience as journalist in Peru, Mexico and Spain and almost three decades of teaching experience in several universities in the United States, Spain and Mexico.

Her areas of research include Latin America, international migration, diasporas and transnational communities; cultural industries; ethnic media; diversity and the media; Latino media in Europe, North America and Asia; bilingual journalism, journalism studies, and journalism education. Retis is co-editor of “The Handbook of Diasporas, Media and Culture” (Willey, 2019) and co-author of “Latin Americans in London: narratives of migration, relocation and belonging” (Palgrave, 2020).

The event (in collaboration with Literary South and Festival of Latin American Women in Arts, Flawa) will be chaired by Silvia Rothlisberger, a writer and broadcaster based in London and working in editorial at The Guardian.

She focuses mainly on contemporary Latin American literature and is the curator of the literary events for FLAWA Festival and the host of Literary South, a radio show on Resonance 104.4.

The discussion will take place via zoom on October 7 at 7 pm (UK Time).

To attend the event you must register with Eventbrite. Access links will be sent to attendees in advance of the event. More information: London Spanish Bookfair & Zine Fair and

(Photos: Pixabay)

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