Academic journal article Southeastern Geographer

The Formation of a Hispanic Enclave in Nashville, Tennessee

Academic journal article Southeastern Geographer

The Formation of a Hispanic Enclave in Nashville, Tennessee

Article excerpt

In the past two decades, Nashville, Tennessee has emerged as a new destination for Hispanic immigrants moving into the American South. Many of these newcomers have chosen to reside in the southeast section of the city in neighborhoods adjacent to two main thoroughfares--Nolensville and Murfreesboro Pikes. Residential clustering has fostered the development of various Hispanicoriented businesses and services throughout southeast Nashville. In this article, I assert that the concentration of Hispanic residents and businesses in southeast Nashville has formed an ethnic enclave. Based on findings collected through an intensive qualitative approach, I argue that the creation of this enclave, complete with Hispanic businesses, organizations, and churches, interferes with the integration of Hispanics into the local community. The results of this study indicate that many Hispanics immigrants (both authorized and unauthorized) choose to operate almost entirely within this enclave which in turn reduces their involvement with members of the host society and slows down the acquisition of the English language. In many cases, this choice is based on language and perceived differences in culture between Hispanics and Anglos; however, interviews and conversations with younger Hispanic immigrants reveal that discriminatory public policies may lead Hispanic immigrants to adopt a strategy of self-segregation as a means of avoiding police harassment.

Durante las pasadas dos decadas, Nashville, Tennessee ha surgido como un nuevo destino para inmigrantes hispanos mudandose hacia el Sur Americano. Muchos de estos recienllegados han escogido residir y localizarse en la seccion sureste de la ciudad, en vecindarios adyacentes a dos vias principales--Nolensville y Murfreesboro Pikes. El agrupamiento residencial ha fomentado el desarrollo de diversas empresas y servicios orientados a los hispanos de todo el sureste de Nashville. En este articulo, afirmo que la concentracion de residentes y comercios hispanos en el sureste de Nashville ha creado un enclave etnico. Basado en los resultados recogidos a traves de un enfoque de investigacion cualitativo intensivo, argumento que la creacion de este enclave, compuesto por comercios, organizaciones e iglesias hispanas, interfiere con la integracion de los hispanos a la comunidad local. Los resultados de este estudio indican que muchos de los inmigrantes hispanos (autorizados y no autorizados) optan por operar casi en su totalidad dentro de este enclave, lo que a su vez reduce su interaccion con los miembros de la sociedad anfitriona y entorpece el proceso de aprendizaje del idioma Ingles. En muchos casos, esta eleccion esta basada en lenguaje y diferencias culturales percibidas entre los hispanos y los anglosajones, sin embargo, las entrevistas y conversaciones con los inmigrantes hispanos mas jovenes revelan que las politicas publicas discriminatorias pueden llevar a los inmigrantes hispanos a la adopcion de estrategias de auto-segregacion como metodos para evitar el acoso de la policia.

KEY WORDS: Hispanic Immigration, Enclaves, Integration, the American South

INTRODUCTION

In the past two decades, the United States has observed a significant increase in the Hispanic population (1) within its borders through immigration. Traditionally, Hispanic immigration has been concentrated in border states (2) as well as in a few major metropolitan areas such as New York and Chicago. Recently, however, Hispanic immigration has exploded in regions where Hispanic settlements and communities previously have not existed (Massey 2008). In no other region has this demographic shift been more salient than in the American South, where growth in Hispanic immigration has outpaced that of anywhere else in the country (HernadezLeon and Zuniga 2005; Kochhar et al. 2005). The growing economies in southern states, which have generated a demand for low-skill labor in both the service and agriculture sector, coupled with a lack of economic opportunities in Mexico and Central America, and increasing hostilities in traditional gateway communities, have been the driving force behind this phenomenon (Murphy et al. …

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