Global Heartland: Displaced Labor, Transnational Lives, and Local Placemaking

Global Heartland: Displaced Labor, Transnational Lives, and Local Placemaking

Global Heartland: Displaced Labor, Transnational Lives, and Local Placemaking

Global Heartland: Displaced Labor, Transnational Lives, and Local Placemaking

Synopsis

Global Heartland is the account of diverse, dispossessed, and displaced people brought together in a former sundown town in Illinois. Recruited to work in the local meat-processing plant, African Americans, Mexicans, and West Africans re-create the town in unexpected ways. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in the US, Mexico, and Togo, Faranak Miraftab shows how this workforce is produced for the global labor market; how the displaced workers' transnational lives help them stay in these jobs; and how they negotiate their relationships with each other across the lines of ethnicity, race, language, and nationality as they make a new home. Beardstown is not an exception but an example of local-global connections that make for local development. Focusing on a locality in a non-metropolitan region, this work contributes to urban scholarship on globalization by offering a fresh perspective on politics and materialities of placemaking.

Excerpt

I write these words in cape town, south Africa, where I am spending the tail end of my sabbatical leave and where recent days have seen the unfortunate outbreak of violence against poor black African migrants. These attacks, which started in Durban and spread out to Cape Town, have occurred by and large in townships, informal settlements, and areas where poor people live. Nationwide, many African migrants have been injured and killed, businesses have been looted or burned down, and thousands of people have been displaced, forcing them to seek refuge at police stations, churches, and temporary accommodations set up by NGOs. Attackers accuse African foreign nationals of “stealing jobs from citizens”—accusations too similar to those I heard about immigrants in the United States as I did my research for this book.

In the aftermath of these tragic events, I helped facilitate two meetings of African immigrant poor who live in Cape Town’s townships, informal settlements, and low-income areas at the invitation of the International Labor Research Interest Group, a local ngo that collaborates with an emerging . . .

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