Public Release: 

The cultural and political consequences of the demographic changes in South Florida

University of Miami professor describes the process which transformed Miami into the center of attention of the Hispanic vote

University of Miami

CORAL GABLES, FL. (November 4, 2008)-Once again, Florida takes center stage during this presidential election, as both political campaigns spend significant time and resources courting the Hispanic vote in this battleground state. Dr. Thomas Boswell, professor of the department of Geography and Regional Studies at the University of Miami College of Arts and Sciences will present the figures and details of the changes of the Hispanic population in Miami and the analysis of the social, cultural and political implications of this process, during the "Race, Ethnicity and Place Conference," on November 5-8, in Miami.

The story of how Metropolitan Miami was transformed in four decades from being a predominantly Anglo city, to one that is largely Hispanic today, is a fascinating tale that continues to shape the character and destiny of this region of the world, according to Boswell.

During the 1960s and early 1970s most of this ethnic change in South Florida was the result of the "Cubanization" of Miami's population. However, by the middle 1970s another change took place, as other Hispanics also began to discover the advantages of living in Miami. Boswell calls this new change a process of "Hispanicization."

"Miami's Hispanics are fundamentally different from Hispanics living in other American cities" said Boswell. "They are more economically prosperous, better educated and politically they are more powerful here than Hispanics in most other parts of the U.S.," he said. "It explains why Spanish is so much more widely spoken here, despite that fact that there are more Hispanics living in both the Los Angeles and New York metropolitan areas," he added. "The growth in the number of people who are Catholics, the practice of Santeria and the development of Miami as the economic gateway city between North America and Latin America are some of the social-cultural consequences of this process."

In 1960, about five percent of the metropolitan area's population was Hispanic and about 80% was comprised of Non-Hispanic Whites (Anglos, including the city's Jewish population). The remaining 15% were Non-Hispanic Blacks. Today, about 62% of Greater Miami's population is comprised of Hispanics and about 18 percent are Non-Hispanic Whites, while another 20% are Non-Hispanic Blacks.

"Currently, there is once again (since 2000) a process of Cubanization taking place here in Miami-Dade County. The proportion of all Hispanics who were Cuban in 2000 was about 50%. Now that has risen to almost 54%. So, Cubans are once again asserting themselves through heavy immigration to South Florida," said Boswell.

Boswell will make his presentation at the The Race, Ethnicity and Place Conference co-sponsored by the University of Miami. The event will take place at 7:00 p.m., on November 5-8 2008, at the James L. Knight International Center, 400 SE Second Avenue, in downtown Miami. The conference is part of Decision 2008: A Dialogue for Democracy, the University of Miami dynamic series of events designed to foster dialogue on the most pressing issues confronting our nation today.


For more information about the fourth biennial "Race, Ethnicity, and Place Conference" call the UM Department of Geography at 305-284-4087, or log on to

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