Racialized landscapes: Whiteness and the struggle over farmworker housing in Woodburn, Oregon

Lise Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Through an analysis of political resistance to the construction of subsidized farmworker housing in Woodburn, Oregon between 1991 and 1996, this article explores the defense of normative whiteness in relation to a largely undocumented Mexican immigrant population residing in the community. It is argued that for many (mostly white) city leaders and residents, the construction of urban farmworker housing represented a racialized and spatial transgression that undermined the normalized geography of farmworker invisibility - the labor camp. While the racial anxieties linked to the permanent settlement of low-wage immigrant workers had percolated for many years, the public debate over farmworker housing represented a moment when the longstanding anxiety of white residents could be publicly articulated, as well as coded and expressed as something other than race. The analysis builds on work in geography examining how spatial metaphors and practices are used to police the borders of whiteness and difference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-62
Number of pages22
JournalCultural Geographies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)


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