Latin American Migrations to the U.S. Heartland: Changing Social Landscapes in Middle America

By Brooks, Jennifer E. | The Journal of Southern History, November 2014 | Go to article overview

Latin American Migrations to the U.S. Heartland: Changing Social Landscapes in Middle America


Brooks, Jennifer E., The Journal of Southern History


Latin American Migrations to the U.S. Heartland: Changing Social Landscapes in Middle America. Edited by Linda Allegro and Andrew Grant Wood. The Working Class in American History. (Urbana and other cities: University of Illinois Press, 2013. Pp. [xvi], 319. $65.00, ISBN 978-0-252-03766-5.)

In this interdisciplinary volume, editors Linda Allegro and Andrew Grant Wood have tapped scholars in a range of disciplines to explore the historical and geographical context of current immigration to the United States. More specifically, these thirteen essays offer a regional assessment of the immigration debate that mentions the Southwest and the Deep South but is primarily focused on the rural heartland. Although two essays focus on southern states (Arkansas and North Carolina), the bulk of the discussion centers on the rural communities of the nonsouthem United States (Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania). The broad goal is to both humanize and contextualize immigration and globalization by highlighting the "collective traumas and stories of resilience" that have brought the peoples of Latin America and the rural American heartland into close proximity (p. xii). Certainly, these essays complicate our understanding of how rural communities have encountered the economic and social realities of late-twentieth-century de-industrialization and early-twenty-first-century re-industrialization.

Allegro and Wood have organized the volume into six distinct sections, along with an introduction and conclusion. Each chapter can also stand alone. The contributors come from a variety of disciplines, including history, political science, economics, sociology, anthropology, and education. Their methodologies are, naturally, as diverse as their sources. And while a volume focusing on the Midwest might appear to be of limited use for historians of the South, this work decentralizes the current immigration debate in interesting ways. The authors establish a spectrum of popular reactions and experiences as immigrants migrate to rural heartland communities. Whether considering American immigrants moving into mid-nineteenth-century Mexico, Mexican sugar beet workers coming to western Nebraska, the growth of new meatpacking industries in the upper Midwest, or the regional impact of the World War II-era Bracero Program, these essays all explore how immigrants arrived at new places in the U.S. heartland and how U.S. citizens in declining rural communities adjusted to their presence. On the one hand, citizens in several communities worked hard to welcome new immigrants and to support their transition to living in the United States. For example, in "Humanizing Latino Newcomers in the 'No Coast' Region," Edmund T. …

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