Los Angeles In-Person | Streaming Online

What is a “Latino”? With Héctor Tobar

What is a “Latino”? With Héctor Tobar | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian
The 14th Annual Zócalo Book Prize Event
Moderated by Natalia Molina, American Historian and 2020 MacArthur Fellow

Is “Latino” a race or an ethnicity? Is it European or American? Is it a source of strength or of subjugation? And does it bring people together—around shared histories of migration and resilience—or is it born from racial ideas about “the other,” borders, and national identity? Journalist and novelist Héctor Tobar is a professor of English and Chicano/Latino studies at UC Irvine, a native Angeleno, and the son of Guatemalan immigrants. He is the winner of the 2024 Zócalo Public Square Book Prize for Our Migrant Souls: A Meditation on Race and the Meanings and Myths of “Latino,which wrestles with these questions and many more around identity, history, and culture. Tobar visits Zócalo to discuss the epic journey the book took him on—across the country, to Guatemala, and back again—and the epic American journeys that define the “Latino” experience. 

Zócalo Public Square is proud to award the 2024 Zócalo Poetry Prize to Melanie Almeder for her poem “Coyote Hour.”

For the first time in Book Prize history, Zócalo will host Zócalo Reads: a reading hour led by 2024 Zócalo Book Prize winner Héctor Tobar, at 6 PM, at The Hoxton, Downtown LA. We will provide 40 free copies of Our Migrant Souls for Zócalo Reads attendees. Space for Zócalo Reads is extremely limited; register for free on Eventbrite. You do not need to attend Zócalo Reads to attend the Book Prize Event.

Zócalo invites our in-person audience to continue the conversation with our speakers and each other at a post-event reception with complimentary small bites and beverages. Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore will sell copies of Tobar’s book during the reception.

The 2024 Zócalo Book and Poetry Prizes are generously sponsored by Tim Disney.


Zócalo Public Square values audience safety. During events at ASU California Center, as bag searches are not permitted, only clear bags (maximum size 12” x 6” x 12”) and small clutches (maximum size 8 ½” x 5 ½”) are allowed in the venue. Zócalo may be able to provide a limited number of clear bags to help accommodate guests. Questions? Ask us at events@zocalopublicsquare.org.

The ASU California Center is inclusive and accessible for all. A platform wheelchair lift is available at our main entrance via Broadway (ground level). Upon checking in for the event, please inform Zócalo staff if you need assistance, or contact events@zocalopublicsquare.org for additional information.

ASU California Center Broadway
1111 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90015

The Takeaway

Héctor Tobar Peers Deep Into ‘Our Migrant Souls’

The 2024 Book Prize Event, “What Is a ‘Latino’?” Explored the Work and Struggle of Building Community in L.A. and America

The city of Los Angeles, the world’s most famous zócalo, and the word “Latino” are connected by a shared history—a history of people and cultures and languages colliding, explained journalist …