Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Justice and Immigrant Latino Recreation Geography in Cache Valley, Utah

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Justice and Immigrant Latino Recreation Geography in Cache Valley, Utah

Article excerpt

For more than three decades, researchers have studied differences in non-mainstreamed recreation participation, attempting to uncover which constraints have precluded specific groups from engaging in public lands recreation (Byrne & Wolch, 2009; Floyd, 1998; Gómez, 2002b; Stodolska, Acevedo, & Shinew, 2009; Washburne, 1978), as reflected in their "underparticipation" in activities that occur in these spaces. Initially, the goal of the research was to determine if those constraints impeded what would otherwise be a large demand for participation, or if recreational differences were due to cultural variations in recreation preferences. More recently, race/ethnicity and leisure research has focused on new areas, with attention paid to ethnic complexity and the intersection of multiple social identities and categories (Shinew et al., 2006) and transnationalism (Stodolska & Santos, 2006), with a resulting non-essentializing approach to understanding the recreation of non-mainstreamed groups (Arai & Kivel, 2009; Byrne & Wolch, 2009).

As a consequence, researchers investigating race/ethnicity and leisure have questioned the utility of comparative analyses that categorize recreationists into distinct groups based on group ethnic or racial identity (Li, Chick, Zinn, Absher, & Graefe, 2007; Shinew et al., 2006), but arguably, research on recreation difference remains critical to moving into a more socially just future as a nation. Race and ethnicity, although socially constructed categories of difference (Arai & Kivel, 2009), continue to have practical meaning for U.S. citizens and residents (Floyd, 2007). This article's argument draws on Byrne and Wolch's (2009) synthesis and Young's (2008) work on the politics of difference both to value difference in recreation and to argue for its relevance to social and environmental justice considerations around the distribution of environmental "goods" in society (such as access to recreation resources), the promotion of health and wellbeing across sub-populations, and the facilitation of inter-racial interaction in public spaces.

Historically, environmental justice arose as a topic of activism and scholarship in the U.S. in response to emerging realization that non-White communities bore a disproportionate burden of environmental costs (specifically, pollution) due to the role of race, class, and political power in the siting of hazardous pollution point sources like waste incinerators, as well as due to a widespread geographic correlation of non-White and poor communities with heavily polluting industries (Bryant, 1995; Bullard, 1994; Bullard, Mohai, Saha, & Wright, 2007). As such, environmental justice concerns were initially linked to health outcomes and risks associated with air and water pollution. In recreation, environmental justice has been similarly linked to health considerations through questions of park access (Byrne & Wolch, 2009; Floyd, Spengler, Maddock, Gobster, & Suau, 2008; Joassart-Marcelli, 2010; Stanis, Schneider, Chavez, & Shinew, 2009) and focused initially on spatial distribution of park resources (Floyd & Johnson, 2002). In this article, the focus is instead on another important justice consideration-the distribution of benefits in society in terms of perceived use value, including environmental benefits related to access and use of sites provided and maintained for leisure and recreation, even in the absence of health impacts (Roberts & Chitewere, 2011; Roberts & Rodriguez, 2008). Thus, this article fuses environmental and social justice perspectives.

Justice considerations dictate that we meet the recreation-related desires of the growing 1 Latino (or Hispanic) population. U.S. census-designated Hispanics constitute 16.7% of the nation's population (United States Census Bureau, 2011b). The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that by the year 2050, Hispanics will make up 30.2% of the total U.S. population (United States Census Bureau, 2008). …

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