Borderlands and Latino Studies Seminar: Omar Valerio-Jimenez, University of Iowa and Raul Ramos, University of Houston

Borderlands and Latino/a Studies Seminar
Friday, February 25, 2011

3:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Scholl Center Seminar papers are pre-circulated electronically.  For a copy of the paper, e-mail the Scholl Center at scholl@newberry.org.  Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.

“Mexican American Ethnic Enclaves in Iowa
Omar Valerio-Jiménez, University of Iowa

This paper explores chain migration, ethnic enclave building, and acculturation among Mexican immigrants in early twentieth-century Iowa. Initially drawn to the Midwest by temporary agricultural jobs, Mexicans gradually obtained more stable positions in railroad maintenance, industrial factories, and packinghouses. Gradually they developed social networks that fueled additional migration and led them to establish ethnic enclaves near their job sites. The paper asks whether these enclaves functioned as defensive safe zones where Mexican culture thrived, and whether they served to segregate migrants from the larger Iowa community? I argue that Iowa immigrants¹ cross-cultural interactions distinguished their experiences from those of their counterparts in the American Southwest and in larger Midwestern cities.

“Politics and Historical Memory Through a Transnational Prism: The 1910 Mexican Centennial in the American Southwest
Raul Ramos, University of Houston

This essay explores the transnational paths of the 1910 Mexican centennial across the border beginning with the Mexican government’s efforts to form organizing parade committees in the United States, and continuing through the local character of the subsequent ceremonies. These transnational processes combined to articulate a distinct sense of citizenship or civic belonging for ethnic Mexicans throughout the region. This distinct form of American identity was made possible by ideas resonating with historical memory in the American Southwest, providing ethnic Mexicans an anchor to attach their identity as members of the community and citizens of the nation.

Commentator: Susan Johnson, University of Wisconsin-Madison