Latino Heartland

Vega, Sujey. Latino Heartland: of Borders and Belonging in the Midwest. (Clashes at the Crossroads, United We are Stronger) New York: New York University University, 2015.

Ive been coming up short this week with useful resources on the Latino experience in the Midwest- let alone Stevens County. Then I finally remembered that last year, I literally took a course called Latinos in the Midwest… GOLD!! I’ve been looking through some of the materials that we read for that class and I am starting to make some better head way!

In one of my favorite, and probably more applicable books, Latino Heartland – Of Borders and Belonging in the Midwest, is chocked full of information that will be useful to our project. There were two specific chapters that Amy and I have both studied that are complimentary to conversations that we have had in class. the first called Clashes at the Crossroads (does that sound similar to something my partner has posted lately?!) and United We are Stronger (does that sound a little like our project goals??)

THIS is what gets me excited about research! Before I get to deep into this material, I want to note that I know that this is not about Stevens County, but the information, and experiences written about in the book will greatly improve the direction that Amy and I take in whatever way we decide to pursue local information!

In the chapter, Clashes at the Crossroads, there was a lot of discussions about how people are or are not included in  community. Sometimes, there are outright judgements, and other times there is an underlying tension that disclude people from certain communities. When the people of Lafayette, Indiana were asked a question about immigrants such as, “What do you know about immigrant history in Lafayette?” they immediately jumped from the words immigrant to Latino and associated the researcher’s interest in migration with one specific ethnic group (143). Prior to this, there was discussion about microaggressions and even while they are actively in pursuit of belonging, there were underlying sentiments of rejection and disdain from the majority in Lafayette (139). This relates directly to the quote, “socially unacceptable examples of outright racism have been replaced be seemingly banal acts that still communicate a levels of discomfort and prejudice present just beneath the surface,” and “Latino residents were either ‘new’ or not a numerical majority required that they have a double consciousness: always aware of how they see themselves and how others see them.” (141, 151) These quotes both came with footnotes of other articles and books that I am very interested in looking into. Already got one on interlibrary loan!

In regards to how my partner’s research and mine overlaps, we have both been looking at borders and communities as combining, clashing, connecting, and creating community. In this chapter, Vega outlines

“A difference between “the border” as a particular geopolitical line of national difference and the resulting borderlands as the places where conceptualizations attributed to the border influence the way people live and interact wth one another. In this regard, the borderlands could and do expand beyond the space directly adjacent to a national border.” (149)

The chapter, United We are Stronger focused a lot more on the same type of thing that Amy and I are pursuing in our research.  It addressed how Latinos in Lafayette showed “cultural citizenship” through different activities like creating a festival, marching for immigration reform, and creating community organizations. Here in Morris, we have a lot of different groups and organizations similar to ones that were described. It would be worth it for Amy to look into these groups more and talk to participants as well and directors (one of whom happens to be my very own partner!)  Another interesting piece relates back to family life and education. From a child’s or student’s perspective, their level of belonging is determined by how, where, and with whom they display certain parts of your ethnic (or, for the purpose of this research, I would expand to religious) identity.

I’m super excited about this reading and all that it will bring to the rest of our research!

2 Replies to “Latino Heartland”

  1. I like that term “cultural citizenship.” It does lend to feelings of belonging whether a person is a legal or other immigrant. Both concepts contribute to a cohesive community. Good work.

  2. “Double Consciousness!” a la W.E.B. DuBois! What a great lens through which to view these groups (and how they view themselves hopefully). Add in Inclusion and Exclusion as markers and you have some good marks to hit in your research here.

Leave a Reply