Elmhurst College: ‘Dora the Explorer’ and the Face of the Latino Immigrant

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‘Dora the Explorer’ and the Face of the Latino Immigrant

The children’s TV series Dora the Explorer, which features the bilingual adventures of a 7-year-old Latina named Dora, has been a ratings and marketing hit ever since it first aired in 2000. Yet the show’s popularity has coincided with a rise in anti-immigrant sentiment focused largely on Latinos. 

On October 3, Nicole Guidotti-Hernandez spoke at Elmhurst College about this dichotomy. Addressing an audience that included many Elmhurst College students, she examined the role of real and fictional Latino children in the immigration debate.

Hernandez teaches at the University of Texas and is the associate director of its Center for Mexican American Studies. In a 2010 blog piece for Ms.Magazine.com, Hernandez described her interest in Dora the Explorer:

“I’ve been following her career since I saw an ad about her in Latina Magazine in 1999, announcing the arrival of the first positive Latina role model for girl children in the form of a Nickelodeon cartoon. For some, it may seem strange for an academic to be so invested in the transnational travels of a seven-year-old Latina cartoon character, but let me say that Dora Marquez has changed how we think about Latinas, for better or worse.”

Guidotti-Hernandez’s research interests include American studies, transnational feminisms, Latino/a studies and borderlands history. She is the author of the 2011 book, Unspeakable Violence: Remapping U.S. and Mexican National Imaginaries. Her Latino Studies journal article, “Dora the Explorer, Constructing ‘Latinidades’ and the Politics of Global Citizenship,” remains one of the most downloaded articles in the journal’s history.

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