Latino immigrants and the renegotiation of place and belonging in small town America

Lise Nelson, Nancy Hiemstra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


This article compares the politics of place and belonging within two non-metropolitan communities - Woodburn, Oregon, and Leadville, Colorado - that have witnessed a significant increase in Latino immigration during the last fifteen to twenty years. Today both communities are approximately 50 per cent Latino, a demographic change that has reworked understandings of place identity and social belonging in each. Through a comparison of the two towns we seek to chart the unique regional political economic dynamics driving these changes, examine their spatial imprint, and interrogate how local context shapes the extent to which new arrivals are able to make effective claims to a sense of place and belonging despite hierarchies of race, class and 'illegality.' Assessing the differences between these two immigrant destinations provides insights into how sociospatial relations are crucial to analyzing immigrant-receiving society interaction, and contributes to scholarship on the uneven geography of immigrant incorporation in the contemporary USA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-342
Number of pages24
JournalSocial and Cultural Geography
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies


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