José M. Causadias, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Arizona State University
We asked scholars to describe some of the following questions: What drew you to do work on Latinx youth and families, or another topic that is important to you now? Who was an important mentor to you in this work, or was there a particularly influential study in the field or in a related field?
I had an atypical career pathway into academia. I wanted to be a Catholic priest in high school, so I went to seminary school in Panama, where I grew up. I left that to study psychology, and then moved to Spain to pursue graduate studies in psychotherapy and clinical psychology. I went back to Panama and practiced for five years. Then, I fell in love with research, so I moved to the United States to get a PhD in Child Psychology. I never thought I would stay here, but I did.
I became a Latino when I moved to the US in 2009. In Panama I was just a Panamanian. That was my identity. I didn’t choose Latino advisors for my PhD because I was only focused on learning about the development of mental health, and because I was colorblind. But I became more and more interested in culture and equity. And I began to develop a Latino consciousness, especially after the election of Trump and El Paso shooting.
My research focuses on culture and the development of mental health. I am very lucky because in graduate school I learned about developmental psychopathology from Dante Cicchetti and Alan Sroufe, and about culture from Moin Syed. My academic role model is Cynthia García Coll. Depth, range, integrity, innovation, resilience. Cynthia has it all.
We invited scholars to describe a recent finding, current study, or recent publication and what makes them excited about it.
I am interested in challenging the idea that Latinos are a homogeneous group. I think this is important because relying on pan-ethnic labels as explanatory variables can obscure individual differences and diminishes our ability to predict behavior. For instance, in the November 2020 elections we saw the myth of the Latino vote challenged by the fact that many Cuban Americans in Florida voted quite differently than many Mexican Americans in Arizona. I mean, we can’t even agree on what to call ourselves.
My colleagues and I are testing whether there are larger within-group differences than between-group differences across developmental processes and outcomes, but is seems to be domain-specific. We found support for the cultural similarities hypothesis in the development of psychopathology, but in a new study led by Gianna Rea-Sandin we found support for the cultural differences hypothesis in executive function performance. We are excited to examine other domains until we get a better picture of these patterns of variation.
Any upcoming talks, presentations, or publications we should know about?
I am happy to be part of SRA 2021 Virtual Meeting. I will be part of a panel discussion on “The Future of Developmental Science” with Riana Elyse Anderson, Tiffany Yip, and Enrique Neblett on March 26, 2021. I am looking forward to it.
Reflections on Latinx Caucus Experiences
Finally, we asked about experiences with the SRCD Latinx Caucus: Why is the caucus important and/or your views on the role of the Latinx Caucus vis-à-vis SRCD, research on child development, policy/practice.
I think the Latinx caucus offers a great opportunity to create a new Latinidad and build a community of developmental scholars of Latin American and Caribbean background. We have had great leaders in recent years that have advocated for Latino youth, and have challenged SRCD to take a stand on the issue of family separations by the Trump administration. Connecting with the Black and Asian caucuses has been a wonderful example of coalition building.
I think the caucus has the potential to facilitate conversations that can help create bridges between Hispanic/Latin/Latinx scholars and our communities, between scholars in the United States and those back home, and between scholarship in English and scholarship in Spanish. For instance, I would love to see new special issues, handbooks, and even journals publishing in both English and Spanish. That requires a lot of effort and planning. I recently translated a paper I wrote in English to Spanish. It was taxing, but rewarding.